Gov. Mike Dunleavy shocked many last month when he sacked Marijuana Control Board Chairman Brandon Emmett and appointed Vivan Stiver to the board post. Ms. Stiver is a well-known opponent of the adult-use program in Alaska, and many see the move as an ominous attempt to undermine the voter-approved law.
Voters approved the state's adult-use law in 2014 by historic margins. Since then, the state has launched a program that generates jobs, revenue, and avoids much of the harm created by marijuana prohibition. The transition from prohibition to regulation has been a success.
But despite clear advances, there have been detractors, and few are as well-known as Vivian Stiver. From her failed attempt to ban businesses in Fairbanks in 2017, to opposing individual licenses, few opponents have been as notorious as Vivian Stiver. If there is a bright spot in her record, it's that she has been ineffective at imposing prohibition policies so far. That may soon change.
Alaska needs board members who support the regulatory path voters have taken, rather than oppose it. Please send a message to your lawmakers and voice your opposition to this ill-considered and harmful appointment.
New rules mark the first statewide, comprehensive framework for on-site use locations
Yesterday, December 20, the Marijuana Control Board adopted rules that allow cannabis retailers to apply for licenses authorizing on-site use of cannabis by adults 21 and over. This is a major step forward for cannabis policy in Alaska and the United States.
The issue of on-site use came to the forefront over four years ago. Since voters enacted the state’s marijuana initiative, the only option for cannabis consumption was private residences. The new rules provide adult residents and tourists with a place to consume that complies with state and local law.
MPP would like to thank all those who provided testimony to the board in support and the many residents and businesses who worked toward a solution during these past several years!
The regulations will next be reviewed by the state’s Department of Law and must be signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer before taking effect. We hope that dispensaries in communities that support on-site use locations will be able to move ahead and prepare for tourist season in 2019 without delay.
Thanks again to all the supporters and those seeking this change in Alaska!
Public hearing scheduled for Dec. 19 before the Marijuana Control Board in Anchorage
The Marijuana Control Board will hear public testimony next Wednesday, December 19 from supporters and opponents of proposed rules allowing regulated, on-site cannabis consumption. While it is legal for adults 21 and over to purchase cannabis, it is illegal to consume it in most locations outside a private residence. This is a catch-22 for the state’s many tourists and some residents, and regulators are finally close to a solution. If you are a supporter, please consider attending!
What: Public hearing – on-site marijuana consumption endorsements
Where: State of Alaska Crime Lab, 4805 Dr. MLK Jr. Avenue, Anchorage
When: Wednesday, December 19, 2018 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
A conference line is available for those who cannot attend in person at 1-800-315-6338, access code 69176. For a quick summary of the regulations, along with some talking points and tips, click here.
While there is strong support for the state’s legalization laws and a clear need for on-site options, not everyone supports the proposal. Anti-smoking groups have stepped up lobbying efforts in opposition, despite well-considered restrictions that would help maintain a safe environment for consumers and staff. Strong support for the sensible solutions under consideration must be clear. Don’t let a vocal minority undermine good policy.
Board seeks public input, with written comments due by November 1
The Marijuana Control Board, which oversees the state’s regulatory system for cannabis, has released proposed rules governing on-site consumption of cannabis at approved locations. Members of the public are invited to review and provide written comments on the proposed rules by 4:30 p.m. on November 1.
A link to the state’s page announcing the proposed rules is available here, and a copy of the rules themselves is here.
Under the proposal, a retailer in a freestanding location could obtain an endorsement to sell adults 21 or over up to a gram of cannabis, which could be consumed at the premises. Products containing up to 10mg THC could also be available, although concentrates would be prohibited. Retailers could provide non-alcoholic drinks and non-cannabis foods. Significant security and access provisions apply, but these seem reasonable.
The proposal would close a significant gap. Currently, adult consumers have nowhere to consume cannabis except in private residences, presenting significant problems for tourists visiting Alaska, who often don’t have access.
Written public comments are due no later than November 1. The board will also hold a public hearing, currently scheduled for December 19 in Anchorage. Those who want to provide comments in person are invited to present them at that time.
If you are an Alaska resident, please consider adding your voice in support of sensible rules for consumers, and help spread the word and forward this message to others in your network!
It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.
Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.
Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.
The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.
So far, the Marijuana Control Board has approved 48 marijuana retail business applications. Many other retail business applications remain under consideration, and the review process continues. For specifics on the state program, including a calendar with important benchmarks, frequently asked questions, the most recently proposed cannabis café regulations, and training videos for applicants, click here.
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted on Friday to create a class of retail marijuana license that will allow onsite consumption. This is an important decision that benefits adult consumers, those who will be licensed to provide to them, and the communities that want to regulate use.
Despite clear language contained in Measure 2, some state staff members had advised the board that it could not authorize retail licenses to allow onsite consumption. Many of those who supported Measure 2 were concerned that the issue would be confused and needlessly delayed as the board deferred to lawmakers rather than exercise its own authority. Public comments submitted to the board overwhelmingly supported this change, and we applaud the board for taking this important step.
While the definition of “public,” adopted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in February, did improve with this change, it unfortunately still falls short of acknowledging the rights private business owners have under the law. Nonetheless, this decision marks an important moment in the rule-making process and a victory for those who worked so hard to make Alaska’s regulations successful.
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board has issued its second round of proposed rules, and Alaskans are invited to comment by 4:30 p.m., Saturday, August 8. Please take a look at the proposal, available here, which provides extensive rules for licensed businesses. While most of the proposed rules offer reasonable regulations, several would clearly violate important protections established under Measure 2.
For instance, Measure 2 allows local governments to craft ordinances that local marijuana businesses must comply with. The current version of the rules goes further, allowing local governments to “protest” individual businesses' applications — which could block them from proceeding. Local governments could also establish unique conditions for particular applicants. Neither provision is consistent with Measure 2.
The board also unfairly tries to expand its own authority to deny licenses and imposes several other restrictions that simply don’t exist under Measure 2. For a more in-depth analysis of the proposed rules, take a look at our draft letter to the board here. We encourage you to submit your own letter, and please feel free to use ours as a guide. Or,simply click here and send comments to board members immediately.