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Alaska nixes proposal for marijuana consumption at pot shops

By Liz Raines 2:56 PM February 2, 2017
JUNEAU –

Alaska was expected to become the first state in the country to open cannabis cafes following statewide legalization. That no longer appears likely, following a quick vote by the Alaska Marijuana Control Board Thursday in Juneau.

The five member board decided in a 3-2 vote not to move forward with regulations to allow on-site consumption in the state, making consumption of marijuana in shops or other designated public locations illegal.

Some members of the board indicated they didn’t want draw attention to Alaska under President Donald Trump’s new administration, which includes a prospective Attorney General, who, unlike his predecessor, might order the Justice Department to enforce federal law banning marijuana use.

“I think that at this point in time we want to be very careful what additional initiatives we take, we have a new administration in Washington” said Mark Springer, a member of the Marijuana Control Board who voted down the regulations.

The decision means that tourists who travel to Southeast Alaska on cruise ships might not have a place to legally consume pot since the ships are docked in federal waters.

“We don’t want a million people getting off of cruise ships in Juneau saying, ‘Oh yeah, you know, that was great we were able to go over to smoke marijuana’ because it will draw a big spotlight on us,” Springer added.

But members of the marijuana industry disagreed with the board.

“All they’re actually doing is deterring people from wanting to come here on a cruise because they don’t want to get a ticket for smoking cannabis on the street,” said Lisa Short, General Manager of THC Alaska.

Tara Bass, owner of the pot store ‘Remedy Shop’ in Skagway called the decision ‘shocking.’

“We’re surrounded by federal land, so it’s going to put everybody in a very awkward situation,” said Bass. “I think mostly it’s going to put the board and the enforcement officers in a very awkward situation.”

The Marijuana Control Board was originally scheduled to take public comment on the issue Thursday afternoon. After realizing it had not provided proper public notice, the board decided to drop the regulation project all together.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter

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