Anchorage Assembly to hear new rules for cannabis cafes
Onsite consumption of marijuana in Alaska's largest city is now in the hands of the Anchorage Assembly.
The state approved cannabis cafes and began accepting applications last month. Local governments now have the ability to make their own adjustments to the rules. Fairbanks recently gave the green light to both smoking and using edibles at approved retail stores, but Anchorage isn’t moving that fast.
At Tuesday’s Assembly meeting members will hear a new ordinance that would allow people to eat, but not smoke, marijuana products at retails stores with state endorsements.
Dankorage, one of Anchorage’s first marijuana retail stores, has big plans for onsite consumption.
“We know that the tourists need some place to consume, it kind of closes the loop on this being an actual legal industry,” said Dankorage co-owner Lily Bosshart.
Bosshart and her business partner Craig Aglietti plan to apply for an endorsement with the state, to build an onsite consumption deck on the roof of its Spenard building.
“This would allow us to bring people up there and we could have live music, we could have food and snacks and things like that,” Aglietti said.
But the store must also have Assembly approval.
Proposed onsite consumption rules at the local level are being introduced at the Assembly. They would allow only the consumption of edibles at approved retail stores, but not smoking.
The municipality's economic and community development director, Chris Schutte, says the tricky part of onsite consumption for Anchorage is that long-standing local smoking bans also apply to marijuana.
“There is a much larger smoking-ban discussion that the community and the Assembly are going to have, if we are ever going to have onsite consumption by smoking or inhalation,” Schutte said.
Assembly member Christopher Constant says he's started drafting an ordinance that will allow onsite consumption by inhalation. The American Lung Association of Alaska believes that would be a mistake.
“Allowing for inhaled onsite consumption of marijuana is going backwards with regard to health risks on secondhand smoke. It’s going backwards with regards to what this community has said is not acceptable: exposing other people to secondhand smoke,” said American Lung Association in Alaska executive director Marge Stoneking.
Back at Dankorage, staff say they're excited about any onsite consumption, and hope the Assembly will keep an open mind about changing local smoking laws.
“Buying a [joint] and smoking it here and then continuing your day, that's the goal,” Bosshart said.
The onsite consumption ordinance is only scheduled to be introduced at the May 7 Assembly meeting. The Assembly is scheduled to hold two work sessions before a public hearing on the ordinance at their regular meeting on May 21.
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