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Alaska Marijuana Control Board live blog: Board removes THC limit for marijuana concentrates

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: July 7, 2016
  • Published November 20, 2015

Alaska's Marijuana Control Board is meeting Friday, Nov. 20, to finalize the state's commercial marijuana regulations. This story will be updated throughout the day, as changes are made to the proposed rules.

Update 4:30 p.m. Friday:

In the final hour of the meeting the board voted to change the marijuana business residency requirements. Now, one must meet the requirements of Alaska voter registration, far easier to achieve than the previous draft, which were based off of Permanent Fund Dividend requirements.

To meet this requirement, a resident will need to have a physical Alaska address and no voter registration in any other state.

Board member Mark Springer said he worried that the board was eliminating "a good stream of money" by having such stringent residency requirements.

The amendment passed 3-2.

Update 4 p.m. Friday:

An amendment limiting marijuana establishments to being open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day failed.

The draft regulations proposing that a retail store could be open any time except between 5 a..m. – 8 a.m. remained in place.

The amendment failed 3-2.

Update 2:45 p.m. Friday:

A broker cultivation license was removed from proposed regulations.

Under a previous draft version of the regulations, a license would have allowed for brokers to procure marijuana from small growers and then sell the marijuana to retailers. The license was seen as a way to help small black market growers transition to the legal market.

Board member Peter Mlynarik wrote that the board doesn't have the power to create a new license type, as a broker isn't truly a marijuana cultivator.

The amendment passed 4-1, with Loren Jones dissenting.

Update 2 p.m Friday:

Marijuana can be packaged in such a way as to allow consumers to see the product before they purchase it in a retail store, the board voted Friday.

A previous version of the regulations had specified that marijuana must be packaged in opaque plastic.

Board chair Bruce Schulte said allowing for clear packaging was needed for the industry, as the appearance of marijuana is important to consumers.

When marijuana leaves the store, however, it must be in opaque, child-resistant, re-sealable packaging.

The amendment passed 3-2.

Update 1:30 p.m. Friday:

The board voted to remove a cap on THC limits for marijuana concentrates.

A prior draft version had capped THC at 76 percent, a calculation derived from the limit placed on spirits; board member Bruce Schulte argued that the cap was taking the idea of regulating marijuana like alcohol too literally.

The amendment passed 3-2.

Update 11:45 a.m. Friday:

The board voted 3-2 in favor of allowing non-cannabis products to be sold at marijuana retail stores, including T-shirts and other merchandise.

Edible products, such as tobacco cigarettes and food, cannot be sold in marijuana businesses under the amendment.

Update 11:20 a.m. Friday:

The change allows for people to buy marijuana products at a retail store and consume them in a designated area on the premises, but the rule would not supersede local laws.

If the rule is OK'd by state lawyers and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, Alaska would become the first state that supports and regulates marijuana consumption in an area outside of a person's home or other private space.

Audience members clapped after the vote.

Update 11 a.m. Friday:

The Marijuana Control Board voted to remove an explicit ban on marijuana social clubs but said they were still considered illegal under Alaska law.

The board does not have the power to either expressly ban or sanction clubs, according to Harriet Milks, assistant attorney general, and the proposed ban was outside of the board's purview.

The removal of an explicit ban doesn't make social clubs legal, director Cynthia Franklin told the board.

The vote passed 3-2. Despite the warning that social clubs were still considered illegal, an audience member yelled "YES!" after the vote.

Theresa Collins, owner of marijuana social club Pot Luck Events, wiped tears from her face.

Update 10:30 a.m. Friday:

A proposal allowing for Outside investment in Alaska marijuana businesses has been rejected by the Marijuana Control Board.

The amendment, which failed on a 3-2 vote, proposed outside investment of up to 25 percent.

Current draft regulations require businesses to be 100 percent Alaskan-owned.

Board member Loren Jones expressed concern that businesses would not be able to conduct proper background checks on Outside investors.

Board member Brandon Emmett argued that since marijuana businesses can't get loans under federal law, investment options were limited.

Update 10 a.m. Friday:

Marijuana businesses will still need to be 500 feet from churches under Alaska law. An amendment that would have lowered the distance to 200 feet was voted down by the board.

A 500-foot separation between marijuana businesses and schools, youth centers and correctional facilities and churches remains on the books.

The proposed amendment was based on geographic limitations of smaller communities, where a 500-foot radius from churches would "effectively bar all marijuana businesses from their community," including testing facilities or cultivation centers, said board chair Bruce Schulte.

Board member Peter Mlynarik voted against the amendment, saying many churches have youth programs and to exclude them from the 500-foot separation area would be "discriminatory."

The amendment failed 3-2, with Schulte and Brandon Emmett voting in favor.

Original story:

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board is meeting Friday at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, finalizing rules for the state's fledgling commercial cannabis industry.

Forty-two pages of proposed amendments were posted Friday morning.

One proposed amendment permits the consumption of marijuana on retail store premises -- a potential answer to the question of where besides private homes Alaskans and tourists would be able to consume marijuana.

If that amendment passes, it would represent a major shift in marijuana policy and would make Alaska the first state to allow for a licensed, regulated space for consumption of marijuana.

Local laws banning indoor smoking would remain in effect.

A pair of similar amendments from board members Brandon Emmett and Bruce Schulte propose allowing Outside investment of up to 25 percent in Alaska marijuana businesses.

The proposed residency requirements would also be a major shift from the original proposals put forth by the board, which banned all outside investment or ownership.

This story will be updated throughout the day. Check back regularly.

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