Scott Woodham

Our question this week comes from Guy Page, who wonders in Vermont: “As you may know, Vermont is considering similar legislation (to legalize marijuana). The connection between youth access and legalization is, of course, a matter of concern. Understanding that Alaska and Vermont are two very different places, could you please point me to some hard, or even semi-hard, data on how youth access has been affected?” There’s a lot going on in this question, so I'll try hard not to fly into a full-on stats-nerd Hulk-out over here. First of all, because licensed sales have not yet begun in Alaska, any understanding of the public health impact of legalization here will necessarily be incomplete so far. That’s the case for adults and youth. And even pets. Because legalization and regulation have...Scott Woodham
This week we won't start off with a particular reader's question as we usually do. In the past several weeks, we've received a few inquiries about the same topic: What recourse is there if someone's home grow smells up the neighborhood or condo building to the point it becomes a nuisance to others? There's a flip-side to that, too. What can home growers do to avoid such a hassle? Judging just from the Highly Informed inbox, the smell of flowering cannabis may be more noticeable lately, but only slightly. Maybe the recent spate of inquiries have come because Alaska Permanent Fund dividends just dropped, but maybe there are simply more brand-new or beginning home gardeners out there since legalization day. Most of the questions arose from apartment building conflicts, but someone in...Scott Woodham
“Kenai Pen Name,” who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is experiencing early-stage symptoms, including painful muscle spasms, asks: “I would like to know more about how cannabidiol (CBD) oil fits into marijuana laws. Is it treated the same as regular marijuana? Is there awareness about the difference? Are there any plans to make it available for sale?” I'm not sure about how much awareness is out there, but the differences between CBD and other cannabinoids could fill this space just by itself (and it could get really sciencey). The main details for the purposes of this column are that CBD does not cause a “high” in people, and when it enters the body it does not act on the same chemical receptors that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive substance in cannabis...Scott Woodham
As draft regulations reach a more cohesive form, “Territorial Alaskan (old guy)” has a question that involves the timeline regulators have to work with: “I understand that marijuana dispensaries may be able to open their businesses in licensed locations around Alaska next spring. If that's true, how will retail operations find enough inventory if commercial growers are not licensed at least six months in advance of that date?” First off, there's a slight misconception here. The dates Territorial Alaskan is thinking of next spring are not the date that businesses can open, just when first licenses are likely to be issued. Whether or not a business can open on the day its license is granted is more of a business matter than a regulatory one. First, a quick run-down on the process. The...Scott Woodham
Jason wonders, “I’m curious about how the law affects those that have a criminal record on account of a marijuana arrest/charge from before legalization. Can those people expunge their record? Is there any process for them to correct their criminal record now that marijuana is legal?” When it comes to our discussions of cannabis laws in Alaska, there are precious few solid answers. Fortunately for everyone, this is one of them. Unfortunately for some, that answer is no, there's no process to remove a cannabis criminal charge from one's record. Ballot Measure 2 didn't create any new statutes providing for one, either. Alaska Department of Law Criminal Division Director John Skidmore acknowledged in an email that Alaska law doesn't provide a way for anyone to seek removal of a criminal...Scott Woodham
A few weeks ago , we considered whether cannabis concentrates would eventually become available to retail consumers in Alaska. But a reader identified some uncharted ground in that conversation. “Lady Marmalade” asks: In discussing the possible future of concentrates, you didn't discuss the limit of less than 76 percent THC in the proposed regulations. What would that mean for dabs? Don't they use concentrates in making edibles? Does that mean that edibles would be lower quality? What would 76 percent mean to that process? Proposed regulation 3 AAC 306.545(a), which in addition to making sure manufactured cannabis products and extracted concentrates require board approval, would set a cap on the THC content of concentrates: 3 AAC 306.545. Approval of concentrates and marijuana products. (...Scott Woodham
Shawn, a chef (and expert punster), wonders whether Alaska cannabis regulators have considered his industry as they're setting the initial boundaries of the legal market. “I would like to know how they plan to address edibles and establishments that sell them. Are they going to allow a restaurant or dinner club that is an adult atmosphere like a bar, 21 and over, to serve cannabis-infused foods? I'm a chef and I think that we should have opportunity to stake our claim in this 'budding' marijuana industry.” The regulation process is ongoing and regulators are still seeking public input on the draft rules issued so far, so things are a bit fluid at the moment. But it appears that no, Alaska's current draft regulations don't take into account the range of likely scenarios involving chefs and...Scott Woodham
“AKEngineer” is hoping for clarity on a source of confusion he or she discovered in close readings of the proposed regulations that will eventually shape Alaska's legal cannabis industry: The ballot initiative specifically made it legal to give up to an ounce of marijuana to someone over 21. The proposed new regulations (appear to contradict the law and) make it illegal to give any amount “to a consumer” without purchasing a $5,000 license and going through a bureaucratic mess. Do regulations trump the law passed by the citizens? Or, if I give a friend a joint, is he/she not a "consumer"? Well, if AKEngineer gives a friend a joint, one would expect that person to consume it. But does consumption actually make someone a “consumer”? Engineer specifically referenced some lines in the...Scott Woodham
As Alaska's Marijuana Control Board continues accepting written comments on the legal system that is taking shape, Tristan wonders, “Will people with criminal records be allowed to participate in the cannabis industry?” So far, the answer is yes, but that depends on what we mean by “participate,” and what kind of criminal record we're talking about. With the passage of House Bill 123 last session, which among other things created the MCB, the Alaska Legislature added a new paragraph to the initiative-created Alaska Statute 17.38.100, one that restricts people convicted of a felony within the past five years from being involved in a registered cannabis-related business. The new bit, AS 17.38.100(i), reads thusly: A marijuana establishment may not be registered under this chapter if a...Scott Woodham
Well, Alaska's Marijuana Control Board has released the third package of proposed regulations and held meetings in Anchorage on Monday and Tuesday . Regulators heard feedback and discussed the rules taking shape for Alaska's legal cannabis industry. Today, we'll look at a question related to some of those rules under development. “Fishboy from Juneau” asks: “Will extracts like BHO (Butane Hash Oil) and shatter be available for us Alaskans? What do the laws look like surrounding concentrates?” It appears at this point that, yes, concentrates like those will be available for Alaskans once the licenses to produce, test and sell them are granted. But some discussion remains before the final rules take shape, and no one's been licensed yet. As we've learned previously , home production of...Scott Woodham