Juneau considers allowing pot cafes inside licensed retailers

The City and Borough of Juneau is exploring whether to allow people to use marijuana inside some businesses.

During a meeting Monday night, Assembly members had mixed opinions about allowing local marijuana retail stores to sell products for customers to use in the shop.

New statewide regulations allowing on-site marijuana consumption go into effect Thursday, when businesses can start applying for on-site consumption endorsements.

Juneau currently has seven cannabis shops. Alaskan Kush Company opened downtown last fall, just up the street from the cruise ship docks.

Alaskan Kush Company warns customers about state laws regarding marijuana consumption by printing them on their bags. (Photo courtesy Amy Herrick)

Manager Amy Herrick said they hope to one day be able to provide customers with a safe and legal place to consume cannabis with an indoor cafe. But for now, they make sure to be clear about what the law says.

“Unfortunately there is no place that they can legally consume, so we have to advise them that they cannot legally consume in public,” Herrick said.

Right now, smoking marijuana is only legal in private residences.

According to City Attorney Robert Palmer, that means visitors and tourists have few options if they want to sample local products.

“The city understands that there are many people that come off of cruise ships or that come to town that want to consider consuming marijuana, and I think the Assembly understood those concerns and is trying to find and strike an appropriate balance,” Palmer said.

The Juneau Assembly added marijuana to the city’s indoor public smoking ban in 2015 after a statewide voter initiative successfully made recreational pot legal.

The Assembly needs more information about the impacts of secondhand marijuana smoke before the city can begin drafting legislation to change the law.

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