After months of debate, Juneau city officials have finally approved an ordinance that will permit the consumption of marijuana at licensed marijuana dispensaries.
The measure was passed by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly by a vote of 6-2. It will allow customers to consume edibles indoors; however, smoking marijuana would be allowed only outdoors at locations approved by state regulators.
The ordinance took months to be approved because the lawmakers wanted to see if they could allow on-site consumption without conflicting with the city’s second-hand smoke laws.
Wade Bryson, an Assemblymember and one of the supporters of the ordinance, said that giving people the freedom to smoke onsite (at dispensaries) would discourage them from illegally smoking weed at public places. “If you don’t like marijuana smoke, you should support this ordinance,” Bryson said during the meeting.
Besides Bryson, the other names that voted in favor of the ordinance are Carole Triem, Michelle Bonet Hale, Maria Gladziszewski, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs and Rob Edwardson. Mayor Beth Welden and Assemblymember Mary Becker, however, voted against the measure.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Welden proposed an amendment that would have allowed only for vaping of cannabis products outdoors. However, the change wasn’t included in the measure.
Assemblymember Triem is of the view that smoking marijuana should be permitted at any place where cigarette smoking is allowed. Gladziszewski thinks that smoking marijuana indoors may eventually find its way just like what happened in California, where on-site consumption wasn’t initially permitted.
“If they (California) can figure it out, Juneau can figure it out, too,” Gladziszewski was quoted as saying by the local media.
A few businessmen — including Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska, and Jennifer Canfield, co-founder of cannabis retailer Green Elephantthough — have termed this ordinance more restrictive than the state law. The former thinks that second-hand smoke is given too much weightage. “I don’t drive but am still subjected to exhaust emitted by vehicles each day.”
Green Elephant is perhaps the only dispensary that can make the accommodations for outdoor smoking lounges as mentioned in the ordinance. Although the measure goes into effect in 30 days, Canfield believes that her dispensary needs some time.
“It won’t happen this year,” Canfield said.