Alaska LT. Gov. Kevin Meyer signed off on new regulations this past Tuesday that would allow on-site cannabis use in retail cannabis shops. The rules go into effect April 11. Freestanding dispensaries can then apply for on-site cannabis consumption endorsements.
The regulations were approved back in December 2019. Yet, they still needed to be reviewed by the state Department of Law and signed by Meyer before they could go into effect. Cannabis dispensaries can now rejoice after years of back and forth negotiations by lawmakers. The suspenseful wait is now over. The earliest on-site consumption facilities might open by mid-July.
Obtaining an endorsement for onsite consumption requires an applicant to hold a license for a retail cannabis store. To apply for an endorsement for onsite consumption licensed applicants must demonstrate a few conditions. Outdoor consumption areas are permissible, but must be compatible with uses of the surrounding area with a sigh-obscuring wall or fence.
According to the new rules, the area where customers will be able to consume their cannabis has to be separate from other parts of the store. Proper ventilation systems will need to be installed and there has to be a designated smoke-free area for employees to monitor consumption.
People won’t be allowed to bring cannabis from other locations into the consumption area. Cannabis businesses looking to expand will still face several hurdles from workplace smoke bans and the investment it might take to comply with regulations.
Some cities have already allowed designated smoke spaces. However, Alaska is the first to have on-site consumption at retail shops. Local governments will be able to decide whether to allow endorsements for on-site consumption. Tourists visiting the last frontier will be excited to use cannabis and have some options to do so legally and safely.
Executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, Cary Carrigan, boasted, “I think it’s going to be huge for us in that regard. I think people are going to realize we’re open for business for tourists.”