The Marijuana Control Board in Alaska failed to make history on February 2nd as a 3-2 vote defeated a proposal that would’ve allowed cannabis customers to use the purchased products right at the retail stores selling the stuff. This proposal would’ve made Alaska the first state in the nation to allow such freedom of use in cannabis stores. The rules would’ve allowed customers to try out their newly purchased products by going into separate areas of authorized stores.
Board member, Mark Springer, voted against the proposal out of fear of how the Trump Administration would react to such a measure as cannabis use remains illegal at the federal level. Another member named Loren Jones voted nay due to negative public opinion. However, the main reason for the defeat is when Sara Chambers, the acting director of Alaska’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said that the onsite consumption proposal was improperly done. Rather than to re-advertise the measure for another 30 days, the board simply chose not to pursue it.
Despite this defeat, Cary Carrigan, the executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association which represents Alaska’s cannabis industry, pledges to continue to lobby for the right for the customer to use their product at stores. He claims that this decision could have repercussions for out-of-state vacationers, especially cruise ship passengers, come summer tourist season. With cannabis consumption being only allowed on private property and cruise ships forbidding cannabis being brought on board, tourists would have no place to legally enjoy their product after purchase. He also argued that this prohibition will prompt cannabis customers to consume their product in open public areas.
Last year, Alaska received over 2 million visitors with over half of them being from cruise ships. According to a 2014-15 study, tourists spent $1.9 billion in Alaska, with most of the revenue coming from the summer months. Despite the potential for higher tourist revenue should the measure have passed, critics of the onsite consumption proposal are unconcerned as they say tourists don’t come to Alaska solely for the legal marijuana as it is legal in several other states.