Cannabis North

Marijuana Control Board bill passes Alaska Senate; municipal regulation bill fails

Two pieces of marijuana legislation were heard on the Senate floor Saturday afternoon. A Marijuana Control Board bill moved forward, while a bill clarifying municipal regulations of marijuana was held for reconsideration in the final days of Alaska's legislative session.

House Bill 123, which would create a Marijuana Control Board, passed unanimously on the Senate floor, 20-0.

Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said before the vote that the bill was "a responsible step … to respond to the voter initiative."

The board would be composed of five volunteer members appointed by the governor. It would work under the auspices of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, sharing the ABC board's staff and director.

A $1.57 million fiscal note in prior versions of the bill was removed Friday and placed in the capital budget. That money would allow for the expansion of staff and resources for the ABC Board.

The Marijuana Control Board bill will now return to the House chamber for concurrence as the final days of the legislative session count down.

The second piece of marijuana legislation, House Bill 75, failed 10-10.

Voting against the bill were Sens. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla; Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage; Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel; Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla; Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks; Anna MacKinnon, R-Wasilla; Donny Olson, D-Golovin; Bert Stedman, R-Sitka; Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak; and Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak.

Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, asked the bill be held for reconsideration, meaning the Senate will take it up again during a subsequent floor session.

Before the vote, McGuire told the floor that the bill was not controversial and had come about at the request of the cities.

House Bill 75 would clarify municipal processes for registering marijuana businesses, give cities power to establish civil and criminal penalties for businesses and establish a 24-plant limit per household, among other regulations.

No other piece of marijuana legislation is poised to pass this regular session. The closely watched marijuana crime bill -- Senate Bill 30 -- has stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Correction: This story originally stated that SB 30 had stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has stalled in the House.

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.