Cannabis North

As marijuana becomes legal, emergency regulation defines what's 'public'

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issued an emergency regulation at a meeting of its board Tuesday morning defining a "public place" for the purposes of legal marijuana consumption.

The regulation adopted at the meeting defines a public place as "a place to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access and includes highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement or business, parks, playgrounds, prisons, and hallways, lobbies, and other portions of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence."

The definition matches exactly the one laid out in Title 11 of Alaska Statutes, ABC Board Director Cynthia Franklin said after the meeting.

Recreational marijuana use became legal in Alaska Tuesday. Under the initiative's language, public consumption of marijuana is prohibited and subject to a citation up to $100. However, "public" is not defined, which has created confusion for public safety officers wondering about the parameters of the law they are tasked with enforcing.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is currently in charge of implementing the initiative.

Some localities, including Anchorage, have defined "public" through city ordinances.

The board also agreed to move forward in starting to craft regulations surrounding marijuana, Franklin said. That's despite a bill introduced in the Legislature that would create a separate Marijuana Control Board.

The ABC Board had procured a contract to hire a regulations writer, Franklin told the board during Monday's meeting.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.