- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska lawmakers on Thursday took a step toward clarifying who will regulate the budding marijuana industry.

The House passed House Bill 75, which would help define a municipality’s role in regulating marijuana businesses, add marijuana clubs to the list of regulated marijuana businesses, and allow a municipality to develop some criminal penalties for marijuana.

Wasilla Republican Rep. Cathy Tilton, who chairs the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee that worked on the bill, said the bill essentially clarified that municipalities have the same role in regulating marijuana as they do for alcohol. Tilton also noted that the bill didn’t expand municipality authority in any way.

Reps. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, and Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, were the sole “no” votes on the bill. Reinbold said she didn’t think the state adequately regulated alcohol, so it wasn’t reassuring to regulate marijuana similarly.

The bill would also enable established villages to prohibit marijuana businesses through an election or ordinance.

The bill also clarifies components of personal use: It would reiterate the ban on public consumption, and set a maximum household limit of 24 marijuana plants if there are three or more residents. An amendment proposed by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, that would have lowered the household limit to 12 plants failed.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, said voters had supported a limit of six plants per person, and a 12-plant household limit did not appear to meet the intent of the ballot initiative.

Other amendments passed with little discussion, including one to clarify that an individual cannot grow marijuana for another person at a place other than the other person’s dwelling, and that assisting someone does not allow an individual to purchase, transport, grow or possess more marijuana or marijuana plants than the law otherwise allows.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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