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Alaska Could Become the Amsterdam of the U.S.

Mountains and a Blue Sky in Alaska
Photo by Robb Hannawacker


Alaska Could Become the Amsterdam of the U.S.

Alaska may soon be one of the coolest places in Northern America to buy legal weed, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with its climate.

Last week, the Marijuana Control Board voted in favor of amending the language of the state’s legalization initiative in order to make it acceptable for people to consume marijuana in state-licensed pot shops. It is a move that could potentially make Alaska the most progressive pot state in the U.S., especially considering that Colorado, Washington and Oregon have all imposed strict rules against on-site pot consumption.

At face value, the amendment sets up licensed dispensaries to conduct product sampling events very similar to how liquor stores might with a wine tasting. However, the implication behind the proposed change is that Alaska could be on its way to becoming the first state in the nation to allow cannabis cafes in a manner that has become so popular in Amsterdam.

When Alaska voters approved Measure 2, they agreed to the original terms, which banned the consumption of marijuana in public. The problem is that the initiative doesn’t really define the term “public,” only that it includes businesses that are open to the community.

Bruce Schulte, who chairs the board responsible for hashing out the regulations for the Alaska cannabis industry, says he believes there is a demand for facilities that allow on-site pot consumption. And while Measure 2 does not come with language that could give way to cannabis clubs, the board has determined that they can make it happen by simply modifying the definition of the word “public” to exclude retail shops.

Supporters of Measure 2 are excited about the possibility of on-site consumption because they believe it will contribute to a more substantial tourism trade. In other legal states, tourists are typically limited in terms of where they can use cannabis because those laws only allow consumption in a private residence, and most hotels are not technically pot-friendly.

Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallot must approve the board’s public consumption concept before it will be allowed to move forward.

Marijuana sales are not yet up and running in Alaska, but the board says it will begin accepting applications for licenses in February of 2016. Some of those licenses will be granted by May.

What do you think? Should Alaska allow cannabis cafes? Tell us in the comments below.

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