People can already consume marijuana in edible forms at approved pot shops in Anchorage. They may soon be able to smoke it there as well.

Smoking would take place in rooms that are isolated and well ventilated. They must be separate, only accessible through the store and not visible from outside the business.

That does not ease the fears of firefighters.

"Where there's smoke, not to use a pun but, there's fire. We definitely have concerns," said Anchorage Fire Department Chief Jodie Hettrick. "There is a very long, a very long list of fires, fatalities in commercial establishments caused by people inappropriately discarding their smoking materials."

Groups like the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association are worried about the effects marijuana smoke could have not only on those who are smoking it but also those who encounter second-hand smoke.

But Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant has his doubts. He is among those at Friday's Joint Assembly Health Policy and Public Safety Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting regarding marijuana's future in the municipality.

"I will concede to the fact that tobacco does have a proven effect -- that's true," Constant said. "But when we switch to -- the smoking hasn't increased exponentially since then of cannabis. It might have some marginally, but those people have always been here, those people will always be here. Where's the body count?"

Assembly members will conduct another workshop Oct. 4 before they decide at their full meeting on Oct. 8 whether to put the measure before voters.

The issue would appear on the ballot of the April 7 municipal election.

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