Alaska News

Alaska delegation headed to Colorado marijuana conference

Alaska officials faced with creating new marijuana regulations starting next month are hoping to learn more by traveling to the first state to legalize it.

Alaska state and local officials will attending a conference next week hosted by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Marijuana Impacts on Public Health and Safety in Colorado. It's unclear whether the conference, which is advertised for "law enforcement, regulators and policy makers," will be open to the public and news media.

A request from Alaska Dispatch News to cover the event was in limbo Tuesday. John Jackson, president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, said in an email Monday that there were no media attending. He wrote that "we are not really doing/allowing reporting from the event." Attempts to reach Jackson for clarification Tuesday went unanswered.

Timing for the conference, scheduled Jan. 14 to 16, is just days before the start of the Alaska Legislature, which is expected to address marijuana laws this session. Starting Feb. 24 -- the day Ballot Measure 2 takes effect -- the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, unless otherwise assigned, will have nine months to begin crafting marijuana regulations.

Conference topics will include how Colorado handled regulations, home-grows, concentrates and edibles, driving under the influence of marijuana, and a primer of state and federal government relations, according to the agenda. Invited speakers include Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and John Walsh, U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado.

The list of Alaska attendees includes Cynthia Franklin, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and Lacy Wilcox, a special assistant in the Alaska Department of Revenue. A member of the ABC Board, ABC Board licensing and enforcement supervisors and an assistant attorney general also will attend, according to Grace Jang, press secretary for Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

Other Alaskans attending include Todd Sherwood and Seneca Theno, municipal attorneys who head up the civil division and prosecution section of the Municipality of Anchorage's law department, as well as one Anchorage Police Department deputy chief and the city's tax director.

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Christine Nelson, planning director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough who will lead the borough mayor's marijuana working group, will also attend.

A number of Alaska police chiefs will be in attendance, according to Kalie Klaysmat, executive director of the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police. She said those include chiefs from the University of Alaska Anchorage, North Pole, Fairbanks, Unalaska, Kenai and Soldotna.

Klaysmat also will attend. She said her association hopes to serve as a resource for other police chiefs by providing them with the information learned at the conference.

"We know that there are going to be issues for law enforcement, so we're going to go down to collect as much information as we can to make things as easy for this transition as it can be," Klaysmat said.

Klaysmat said she talked to police colleagues in Colorado during Alaska's debate to legalize marijuana. She said many mentioned lots of "little bumps in the road" that Alaska law enforcement would want to avoid.

"We hope to perhaps mirror the good things that happened down there and not mirror the bad ones," she said.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.

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