While it was predicted early on that Alaska was destined to become the first state to allow some level of social marijuana use, that dream has been squashed, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Last week, the regulatory forces charged with hashing out the details of Alaska’s cannabis industry snuffed out a measure that would have allowed people to smoke marijuana at the very store it was purchased. The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted 3-to-2 not to permit the consumption of marijuana at any of the state’s retail pot shops.
The decision preventing people from buying cannabis and then using it in designated areas of a dispensary has the cannabis community in an uproar. But regulators feared that moving forward with the concept of social use might have prompted the Trump Administration to send in the DEA and implement a crackdown.
“We don’t want to be waving a red flag in front of federal law enforcement, at least not now,” board member Mark Springer told the AP.
There were also some concerns about how this policy might impact the rules associated with the smoke free workplaces, as well as how it might encourage people to consume marijuana in public as opposed to at home in a safe and responsible manner.
Cannabis advocates were pushing hard for the social use rule because they wanted to provide the tourists that filter into the state every year with a venue for consumption. As it stands, most hotels and resorts do not allow people to smoke marijuana anywhere on the premises.
There is now some concern that Alaska’s tourism trade might suffer without a plan to allow social use. Some believe legal weed alone will not be enough to drive tourism because there are too many other jurisdictions all across the nation with similar policies in place.
By allowing marijuana to be consumed in dispensaries, Alaska’s cannabis market could have easily been touted the Amsterdam of Northern America – something that no other state has managed to achieve.
But the battle is not over. Advocates are expected to continue pushing for some level of marijuana use in retail establishments.