Alaska Begins Marijuana Regulatory Process
Last month the Alaska’s state legislature approved a bill which established a Marijuana Control Board responsible for regulating the newly legal industry. Although the governor has not yet appointed members to the Marijuana Control Board, the regulatory process has not stopped.
Until the control board has been established, the Alcoholic Beverage Control board will take up the task of setting regulations; and just this week, the board looked at its first set of potential rules.
The first thing the ABC Board did was take the time to define certain words, like “marijuana plant” or “edible marijuana product.” It may sound like a waste of time to some, but lawyers can split hairs over semantics so taking the time to define terms is important. “Possess” and “assist” were two terms that the board went to great lengths to define accurately.
Under current Alaskan law, individuals may possess up to six marijuana plants for home cultivation and people are legally allowed to assist individuals growing it. The reason why the ABC Board wants to define “possess” and “assist” is to make sure there is no confusion and to make sure people do not rent out warehouses and claim that they are “assisting” 100 other people in growing marijuana.
In Colorado, collective gardens have been a bit of a problem so Alaskan regulators want to squash any potential of that happening in The Last Frontier.
The next regulatory statute considered was allowing local municipalities the ability to prohibit marijuana businesses. While towns would have the ability to prohibit retail sales and commercial growing, they would not be able to ban marijuana possession because it would violate the ruling of Ravin v. State, which is an Alaska Supreme Court case that upheld the right for Alaskan citizens to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
According to Alaska Dispatch News, the regulatory process will be broken up into three rounds; each round will be punctuated with a 30 day public commentary period between the time when the regulations are proposed and when they go to a vote.
Here is the proposed timeline:
In July, the ABC Board will meet to review public input for the first set of proposed regulations, make any necessary changes, vote on said regulations, and then it will hear the second set of proposed regulations.
In August, the Marijuana Control Board will meet to consider whether or not to approve the measures voted on by the ABC Board, and it will hear public commentary on the second set of regulations.
In September, the board will vote on the second set of regulations, and then hear the third set of proposed regulations.
In October, the board will hear public input on the third set of regulations.
In November, the board will vote on the third and final set of regulations, with November 24, 2015, as the deadline.
Despite some early hiccups in the regulatory process, things seem to be moving along in Alaska. We haven’t gotten to the heart of the process, so it is difficult to gauge results and make predictions, but at this point it is enough to know that things are happening.