The Last Frontier is coming in first when it comes to social cannabis consumption.
On Thursday the Alaska Marijuana Control Board approved regulations for cannabis dispensaries to host onsite marijuana consumption. That means customers will be able to buy their cannabis and smoke it too at select pot shops in Alaska.
The recent vote largely ends an issue that has been batted back and forth by the board since 2015, when the board said they would allow onsite consumption sites but neglected to set up operating regulations.
Under the new regulations adults will be able to purchase up to one gram of flower or ten milligrams of cannabis concentrates to use immediately at a specified onsite cannabis consumption space either indoors or outside. Businesses hoping to establish an onsite cannabis consumption space will have to submit an application that shows the rest of the store will not be subject to second-hand smoke and is not accessible by minors.
"The licensee, of course, has to address how they're going to prevent diversion, how they're going to prevent access by people under the age of 21," Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Director Erika McConnell told USA TODAY. "So even if they are sort of in an area where they don't have a lot of neighbors, they're still going to have to explain to the board how they're going to prevent someone who's 18 from walking into the area and saying, 'Hey, can I get a smoke?'"
Licensure will also be subject to local statute preventing onsite cannabis consumption spaces, so states that are opposed to letting people have a puff at dispensaries can override the new law. The new regulations also need to be cleared by the Alaska Department of Law before they come in to effect.
Still, assuming the regulations are cleared, this would make Alaska the first state to allow these sorts of social cannabis consumption spaces. Which could give their tourism industry a huge boost as visitors can't really enjoy legalization unless there's a place for them to legally smoke or vape cannabis.
Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel with the Marijuana Policy Project says he hopes other states will follow Alaska's lead.
While it's true that there are legal vape lounges in Colorado, they operate as a bring-you-own-weed basis. Onsite consumption spaces in Alaska would be more akin to bars where adults will not be allowed to bring their own product and instead must purchase their cannabis from the adjacent dispensary.
Congrats Alaska, who says nothing cool happen up north?