Alaska rejects dagga consumption at retail pot stores


Juneau - Regulators in Alaska on Thursday narrowly rejected a proposal that would have made the state the first in the nation to allow dagga consumers to use the pot that they buy at the retail stores selling it.

In a 3-2 vote, the Alaska Marijuana Control board decided not to allow it - prompting criticism from retailers who vowed to continue to press for some sort of allowable dagga use at their stores.

The proposed new rules would have let people buy dagga products in authorised stores and go into separate store areas to partake.

Board member Mark Springer, among those who voted to reject the measure, said he was worried how the new administration of President Donald Trump might view dagga use at retail stores in Alaska.

It remains illegal at the federal level but has also been legalised in seven other US states and the District of Columbia.

Another board member, Loren Jones, said he voted against the proposal after receiving many negative comments from the public.

READ: Dagga law challenge back in court

Tourist market

The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association representing the state's new pot sector will continue to lobby for some way to allow consumers to use pot at the stores, said Cary Carrigan, the group's executive director.

He predicted pandemonium could happen during Alaska's upcoming summer tourism season, the first when legal pot shops will be open in Alaska.

Industry players have previously said tourists, especially cruise ship passengers, will not have any legal place they can smoke dagga after buying it because the legalisation law only allows pot to be smoked on private property. Marijuana is off-limits on cruise ships.

They have said it would be better to allow Alaska tourists to smoke dagga in the stores because prohibition will prompt users to smoke in public places such as streets, parks and trails.

More than two million tourists visited Alaska in 2016, and just over half arrived on cruise ships.

A study conducted for the state estimated tourists from the 2014 - 2015 season spent $1.9bn in Alaska, mostly during the summer months.

Critics have said tourists will not come to Alaska only for its legal dagga because other states have also legalised recreational pot.

The board's rejection of the measure came after Sara Chambers, the acting director of Alaska's Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, told board members the public notice for the onsite consumption proposal was improperly done.

The board then had the options of re-advertising the measure for another 30 days or deciding not to advance it, and they approved the latter option.

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