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Alaska Finally Approves Dispensaries for On-Site Consumption


Alaska was one of the first four states to legalize cannabis for adult-use – and now, it is the first to have state-approved consumption spaces within their dispensaries. The idea of on-site consumption is one that lawmakers around the country have been toying with, but Alaska was the first to say they would do it, and it looks like that time has finally arrived. It took years – even after regulations for such spaces were passed – to get to this point. But, the Marijuana Control Board voted 3-2 in favor, and Cannabis Corner near Ketchikan and GoodSinse in Fairbanks are the first to receive approval. 

“I don’t see it being something that starts proliferating heavily. But it’s definitely something that should exist, and there should be options for social consumption, particularly because public consumption is still illegal,” Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, said Friday.

Requirements for the consumption spaces including being separated from the rest of the property – in the form of a secure door, separate ventilation system, or by being outdoors. People will not be able to bring their own cannabis – it will need to be purchased from the dispensary on-site prior to consumption. It also requires smoke-free areas for employees, where they will be able to monitor consumption. 

While there are other places, like Denver, where a local social use initiative was passed, these are the first state-approved consumption spaces within a dispensary. The expectations as far as what these spaces would look like are anything from a living room style area to something more like a brewery, with TVs for watching sports. Cannabis Corner is aiming for a February launch of the addition to their dispensary, and GoodSinse expects to be open by summer, or potentially sooner.

“This is historic in my mind,” Daniel Peters, a co-owner of GoodSinse, said in an interview, adding that they hope to be open by summer. “This is a really big milestone … when you’re trying to bring normalcy to something in a new industry.”

Most of the business is expected to be local, but Ayme Zantura, co-owner of Cannabis Corner, has already talked with some cruise lines that are interested in bringing their vacationers inland to their shop. Tourism is a primary reason that it is so important that Alaska took this step forward – and that other states soon follow their lead. People that travel to states with a legal cannabis industry and who wish to enjoy some legal bud are currently unable because of the lack of places to smoke legally. On-site consumption spaces are an effective solution to this industry problem.