The Alaska Marijuana Control Board met last March 7, 2017 in Anchorage, discussing everything from its on-again, off-again relationship with marijuana cafes to whether or not cultivators can keep rolling joints before delivering them to stores.
Here are the most crucial takeaways:
The board will give writing rules for marijuana cafes a second try
The control board will try to write rules for on-site consumption places at marijuana retailers, a plan that it shot down at its last meeting.
The board voted 4-1 to restore the project. It’s expecting to define parameters for on-site consumption places, which are designated spaces within a marijuana store for people to consume cannabis, comparable to a bar or a cafe.
Tuesday’s discussion picked up from the board’s Feb. 2 meeting, when it killed a regulation-drafting project that had been in the works since May 2016.
But confusion built in Alaska’s cannabis industry with an email the following day from acting Marijuana and Alcohol Control Office Director Sara Chambers.
Chambers clarified the board could still technically approve on-site consumption places, originating from language the board approved in Nov. 2015 that was meant to be a placeholder until details could be hashed out.
So on Tuesday, the board elected to take another chance at writing rules regarding on-site consumption places after a new motion was brought up by board member Brandon Emmett to start up a new project.
Following the meeting, board member Mark Springer and Chair Peter Mlynarik — who both had voted to strike the old project — talked about their reasons for taking another hit at the rules.
Springer said since Emmett had introduced a motion to take up the project again, he voted in favor of it.
“I never vote to not go into public comment,” Springer said.
Mlynarik said it was necessitated by the present regulations. He called it a new project with exactly the same theme as the old one. “We really don’t know what this new regulation project is going to look like,” he said.
Another theory was offered by marijuana lawyer Jana Weltzin:
“If they did not take the project and they simply summarily rejected all on-site operating plan requests that would be incredibly arbitrary since the regulations already allow for (it),” Weltzin said in a text message.
The board also addressed five marijuana stores that had included outlines of their on-site consumption places in their business plans. Those plans had been approved, but the question was whether the on-site consumption was included in that approval.
In a 4-1 vote, the board said it never meant to approve on-site consumption places without having rules around them. So those businesses still have to wait until details are written.
Retailers and growers can keep rolling joints
The board also clarified that joint can be rolled by growers and retailers. At the previous meeting, the board had said joints were a marijuana product, meaning only businesses having a manufacturing license, which make edibles and concentrates, there are just four active ones in the state that could roll a joint.
After reviewing the regulations the board ascertained that growers or retailers can roll joints as a kind of packaging, board member Nick Miller said.
One clarification: “Nothing can be blended or included in that marijuana that has been placed into that preroll. Preroll is a kind of packaging. If you combine it or add anything to it then it becomes a product,” Miller said.
Public testimony was dominated by worries about permit backlog
During public testimony, many businesses requested the board to set up another meeting in May, in between their planned meetings in April and July. Would-be growers told the board they’re afraid they wouldn’t get their plants in the ground in time for the summer season.
An enormous workload and understaffing have blighted the Control Office for months.
Marijuana lawyer Jason Brandeis told the board his clients, who did not get on the agenda for April’s meeting, would have to wait until July, and that would “effectively preclude them from operating during the summer season.”
On April the board will meet again.