Soon, Alaskans will be able to do something recreational cannabis consumers across the country have been clamoring for: smoke up in the weed shop. On Tuesday, Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer signed off on new rules allowing customers to consume cannabis in retail marijuana stores. The rules won’t go into effect until April 11. And even then, it will take a couple months for regulators to process and approve applications.
Alaska’s Cannabis Businesses Will Have to Clear Some Hurdles to Set Up On-Sight Consumption
So on-site consumption likely won’t be a reality in Alaska until mid-July at the earliest. But that doesn’t mean Alaska can’t brag about being the first state to approve statewide regulations for on-sight consumption at retail shops. In other weed-legal states, certain cities have passed ordinances allowing for cannabis consumption in designates spaces.
In California, for example, local governments can either authorize or ban on-site consumption in state-licensed retail shops. And even when municipalities explicitly prohibit consumption on site, stores still allow it, offering customers a dab or a pre-roll while they browse the wares. In fact, a recent cannabis event in Alaska faced fines for allowing public consumption.
In Alaska, local governments will have the same authority. And based on how controversial the issue of on-site smoking has been, it’s likely at least some will choose to opt out. On the other hand, businesses might decide that the effort and cost required to meet regulations for on-site consumption isn’t worth it.
Retail shops that want to host on-site consumption have to meet several regulatory standards. They have to keep the consumption area separate from the main retail space and have a dedicated HVAC system. Shops must also provide a smoke-free area for employees to monitor on-site consumption. And companies will have to figure out a way around other workplace regulations, like bans on smoking.
On-Sight Consumption Expected to Grow Alaska’s Tourism Industry
But for weed shops located in Alaska’s tourism centers, all that investment could pay off. Like other adult-use states, public cannabis consumption in Alaska is prohibited. And that means visitors without a private residence can have trouble finding a spot to consume cannabis. The situation is further complicated by the fact that weed is still illegal on federal lands. And that means you can’t possess or consume cannabis in places like parks and wildlife refuges, both popular tourist destinations in Alaska.
Therefore, the option to consume cannabis in a designated area in a retail shop would be a highly attractive amenity for tourists looking to partake. “I think it’s going to be huge for us in that regard,” said Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association. “I think people are going to realize we’re open for business for tourists.”
What if you already have some cannabis and are looking to enjoy it in a place that’s not your residence? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to bring it with you. Alaska’s on-site consumption regulations prohibit anyone from bringing their own weed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t purchase some fresh bud at the shop.