Alaska Marijuana Control Board Releases Full Regulations

After months of meetings and deliberation, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board has finally unveiled its full proposal of marijuana regulations. Packed into the 100+ page document are rules regarding marijuana taxation, distribution, edibles, as well as the controversial issue of social clubs.

Under this latest iteration of proposed regulations, marijuana businesses would be barred from setting up shop within 500 feet of a school, a recreation or youth center, a building in which religious services are regularly conducted, or a correctional facility.

If any of the aforementioned facilities were to be built within the buffer zone of a pre-existing marijuana business, that business would not be required to change its location.

Marijuana products would be required to be packaged in an opaque container that is four millimeters or greater in thickness and made of heat sealed plastic. The package must be designed to be “significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open; but not normally difficult for adults to use properly.”

In addition, marijuana products would be required to be labeled with the following statements:

  • “Marijuana has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.”
  • “Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under its influence.”
  • “There may be health risks associated with consumption of marijuana.”
  • “For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”
  • “Marijuana should not be used by women who are pregnant or breast feeding.”

There was some debate among the board regarding whether to allow marijuana cultivators the ability to acquire a marijuana testing license. According to Juneau Empire, board members expressed concern over the possibility of marijuana cultivators altering test results.

“Just one word: Volkswagen,” said board member Loren Jones.

The most contentious part of the draft regulations is the ruling on marijuana social clubs. Since marijuana was legalized in Alaska, there has been endless controversy over this issue and it is unlikely to abate barring swift legislative action.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that the voter initiative that legalized marijuana in the state only outlined four marijuana license types: retail marijuana store, marijuana cultivation facility, marijuana product manufacturing facility and marijuana testing facility.

As such, the MCB only has authority to regulate those four license types. Some argue that the board should ban social clubs until the legislature takes action, while others believe that the board should stay silent on the issue.

Ultimately, the MCB voted to ban marijuana social clubs for the time being. While board members were not opposed to the idea of social clubs, some felt that it would not be prudent to allow a business not specifically authorized.

“We need some legislative guidance on this,” board member Mark Springer told Alaska Dispatch News. “I think that right now, since (clubs are not) authorized, we may as well say they’re not.”

Even more controversial is a provision that would ban any person from obtaining a marijuana license that operated a “delivery service, a marijuana club, or a marijuana establishment illegally … unless the board finds that person has diligently worked with the board to comply with all current laws and regulations relating to marijuana.”

What this means is that those that continue to thumb their noses to the MCB and operate marijuana social clubs or delivery services will run the risk of never being able to legally operate a marijuana business.

As it stands, the draft regulations have not yet been officially approved and the MCB will be receiving public commentary until November 11, 2015.

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