- Associated Press - Friday, July 3, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s newly appointed Marijuana Control Board has proposed four changes to state marijuana laws.

The board held its first meeting Thursday in Fairbanks. They signed off on statutory changes it wants the Alaska Legislature to change in last year’s ballot measure that legalized commercial marijuana, reported The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/1JHMSWn).

The four issues include allowing cannabis clubs, updating criminal law, clarifying the difference between a personal grow and an illegal operation, and giving villages the ability to opt out of commercial marijuana sales.

During the campaign, sponsors said communities and villages that did not want commercial marijuana sales could choose not to have them, but the language used in the initiative, which refers to “local governments,” has proved to be a problem.

Cynthia Franklin, the executive director of the Marijuana Control Board and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said the words are already clearly defined in state law and the definition doesn’t include villages or unincorporated areas.



The proposal asks the Legislature to allow both unincorporated communities and federally recognized tribes to opt out.

Much of the public testimony at the meeting regarded the desire for the state to allow businesses where people could use marijuana.

Tina Smith, a Wasilla resident who drove to Fairbanks to attend the meeting, said she used medical marijuana but had no legal place to use it because she was traveling.

“I have not been able to partake in cannabis while staying in the hotel for this visit to Fairbanks. There is no social club I can visit to partake. I have no legal options,” she said. “Smoking in my car means smoking in public. … A social club would cover that.”

The board’s position on the matter was that it wanted the authority to offer licenses for such businesses.

On the issues of how marijuana is treated in the criminal laws, the board didn’t take a position but asked the Legislature to continue discussing the subject. Marijuana continues to be treated as a controlled substance while strong efforts have called for the drug to be moved to the list of regulated substances.

The board asked that the Legislature resolve the issue regarding the threshold set for differentiating between a personal in-home grow and an unlicensed commercial grow.

A public comment period on draft regulations for the marijuana industry will be open July 7 through Aug. 8.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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