A lot has happened since marijuana was legalized in the Last Frontier; here is an overview of the latest marijuana news in Alaska to bring you up to speed. Generally, matters legislation seems to have slowed down since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is likely to change once business resumes back to normal- past the pandemic.
Is Marijuana Legal in Alaska?
Marijuana is legal in Alaska, both for medical and recreational use. Alaska was the third state to legalize recreational use of marijuana with the passage of Measure 2 in 2015. Measure 2 established the Marijuana Control Board (MCB) which regulates and governs recreational marijuana use.
Medical marijuana on the other hand was legalized in Alaska in 1998 through the passage of Measure 8.
As it is, Alaska is one of the most vibrant pot destinations; weed literally lights up the cities in the Last Frontier.
On-site Consumption of Cannabis Legalized in Alaska
In March, 2019 Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer signed a bill that would allow free standing approved marijuana stores to allow on-site consumption of marijuana products. This means that customers will soon be able to light up right right in the store after purchasing weed products. Marijuana concentrates however are excluded from this. The Alaska Marijuana Control Board approved the bill in December 2019, it takes effect in April 2020; this month.
This has placed Alaska on the map as the first state to legalize on-site consumption of marijuana products in marijuana stores. This is history in the making and it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the end; will other 420-friendly states follow suit?
First Alaska retail pot shops get approval for on-site consumption – Jan 2020
In January, two pot shops in Alaska got the green light for on-site consumption of marijuana. To get this approval, pot shops have to comply with the Marijuana Control Board requirements; they need to provide a separate room secured by a door with a separate ventilation system. Additionally, the marijuana has to be purchased on-site and not brought from outside.
The Marijuana Control Board issued approvals to GoodSinse LLC in Fairbanks, and Cannabis Corner in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. The moment was “historic” as echoed by the c0-owner of GoodSinse, Daniel Peters.
Voters in Anchorage Reject On-site Consumption of Marijuana – March 2020
In March, voters in Anchorage rejected marijuana proposition 11 which would have permitted consumption of marijuana edibles and “smokables” in marijuana stores. A mere 35% of voters voted in favor of this proposition. The results of this election will be certified by the Anchorage assembly on April, 21st.
Contaminated cannabis products in Alaska- Jan 2020
At the start of the year, Alaska regulators recalled cannabis products for the first time. The products were from a retailer based in the town of Houston. The regulators claimed that the products were contaminated with pesticides and/or fungicides. Consumers were asked to return products that they had purchased from the said retailer for “proper destruction.”
Mark Springer, Chairman of marijuana oversight board axed from office- Jan 2020
Gov. Mike Dunleavy removed Mark Springer from office as the head of the marijuana oversight board. Mark Springer’s term ended in March, 2020; Mike Dunleavy failed to renew his term in January.
Mark Springer has been a strong critic of the governor.
Loren Jones from Juneau was appointed to replace Mr. Springer. Other members of the marijuana oversight board in Alaska who are currently in office are:
– Casey Dschaak from Dillingham
– Nicholas Miller from Anchorage
– Christopher Jaime from Soldotna
– Bruce Schulte from Anchorage
The Marijuana Control Board (MCB) regulates the marijuana industry in Alaska. Under the leadership of Mark Springer, the MCB created 9 chapters of regulations to “protect health and public safety.” Springer admits that “on-site consumption” was one of the toughest issues during his tenure. The Lung Association, Heart Association, Cancer Society, took issue with this, raising concerns about air pollution and people driving under the influence of marijuana.
Marijuana as “Essential Service” in Alaska (COVID-19)
In Alaska, the governor has not expressly stated that marijuana businesses are “essential” during the period of the pandemic. However, marijuana businesses have been allowed to remain open for as long as they adhere to the WHO COVID-19 guidelines; hygiene and social distancing requirements.
So far, it appears that marijuana dispensaries in Alaska are complying to this requirement. At dispensaries, you will find dispensary workers all gloved up and maintaining a distance of 6 feet between themselves and customers as well. Customers stream into the dispensaries one at a time while sanitizing and strict hand washing is enforced.
Meanwhile in Anchorage, marijuana businesses made the list of “critical businesses” to remain open during the period of the pandemic.
Marijuana Sales Spike in Alaska Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Marijuana dispensaries in Alaska have witnessed a spike in sales volumes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marijuana users have been “stocking up” on cannabis products with fear that supply may run out. It seems like more people are turning to marijuana to relieve anxiety that comes with the pandemic.
Those are the latest marijuana news in Alaska; we will keep you updated as more developments come our way.