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Local marijuana retail shop weighs in on Marijuana Control Board’s proposal for on-site consumption

By Steffi Lee Photojournalist: Beth Peak - 4:55 PM July 15, 2017

Using marijuana in a separate room within the same store you bought it from could become a possibility in Alaska, after the Marijuana Control Board’s proposal to allow that option passed Friday.

The proposed rules would allow retail marijuana shops to have a separate room for using pot, in a different building or separated from the shop by a wall or door. It would also give power to local governments, allowing municipalities and cities to choose not to participate.

“Still a lot of unknowns out there,” Will Ingram, general manager of Alaska Fireweed, said.

Ingram said when Alaska Fireweed opened, they added space with the intentions of building a separate smoke lounge within the shop. Right now, it’s where the shop displays shirts and other clothes for sale.

“We always wanted this to be a lounge back here and what happens over the next couple of days, we’ll see how that develops,” he said.

The Anchorage Assembly voted seven to four to support on-site consumption during its Tuesday meeting. Ingram said he’s optimistic Alaskans will work together to find a solution for the state’s growing cannabis industry.

“Anyone on the outside, even in the retail space, wouldn’t know there’s a smoke lounge back here at all,” Ingram said about his vision for the room.

Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said when the board releases its proposal, the public will have 60 days to provide written comments. Assembly chair Dick Traini wants the conversation in Anchorage to focus on public health.

“I don’t want the workers, where they have to subject their health and safety to marijuana smoke or tobacco smoke for that matter,” he said.

Anchorage already has its own law banning secondhand smoke from tobacco and marijuana, and Ingram says public health remains a top priority for him.

“I’m very concerned with that aspect, you know,” he said. “We are next door to some businesses. They hire 21-year-old employees. I don’t want anyone to be offended. I’m absolutely going to make sure we’re not going to have an impact on secondhand smoke.”

McConnell said the board has an option to hold a public hearing once the 60-day window for written comments is over, but has not decided if it will do that yet.

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