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Aimee Altman





Big news for the Alaskan Cannabis industry! After years of debate, the MCBA has voted to allow onsite consumption with a 3-2 vote. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, cannabis users aren’t free to toke up at their favorite pot shops just yet, as the regulations will still need to be approved by the Department of Law.

Sitka Police Chief, Jeff Ankerfelt, who holds the Public Safety seat, was among those to vote yes. This is a huge victory for the industry, proving once again that cannabis can be safe for public consumption, when done so responsibly.

Cannabis business owners will need a special onsite endorsement before they can allow customers to consume, which takes into consideration specifics such as ventilation. Businesses will need to provide a separate consumption space, adjacent to their store, with its own locking entrance.

There are stipulations as to what kind of products will be allowed for consumption onsite. At this point in time, concentrates are not allowed. It seems the board has approached this similar to a brewery tasting room, allowing up to 1 gram of flower or a 10 milligram edible to be sampled. Consumers will not be allowed to bring their own product into the stores for use, similar to a bar not allowing patrons to bring in alcohol.

While other states are going through similar processes to allow onsite consumption, Alaska could be the first to implement the new regulations. While some are fearful of what this could mean, many are hopeful that we’ll one day be as relaxed about cannabis as our good neighbors in Canada. Canadians have allowed cannabis to be consumed anywhere that cigarettes are allowed, going so far as to permit their military and police force to consume, while not on duty, of course.

Onsite consumption could mean big money for the tourism industry. Currently, there are few places where tourists are allowed to consume legally. As we all know, Alaska thrives on those tourism dollars, a factor that wasn’t lost on those voting. Just imagine...instead of booking that cruise to Alaska with dog sledding adventures on the glacier, tourists will be able to book a cruise with a cannabis excursion. This will likely open up many new business opportunities within our state.

Congratulations to all of those who showed up on Wednesday to bravely give their testimony to the board. The cannabis community rallied together, once again proving there’s strength in numbers. It’s been a long road, friends. Sure is nice to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

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