Juneau Assembly approves local on-site marijuana consumption

On-site marijuana consumption will be legal for licensed Juneau retailers that satisfy certain conditions, but smoking will only be allowed in designated outdoor areas. (Creative Commons photo illustration by Chuck Grimmett)

The Juneau Assembly approved an ordinance Monday that allows patrons to consume marijuana edibles inside licensed retailers and smoke in designated outdoor areas.

The vote was 6-2, with one Assembly member absent. Assembly member Mary Becker voted against it, saying she would prefer marijuana not be used at all.

Mayor Beth Weldon also voted against it, but only because she took issue with allowing smoking in public.

“I don’t care if you’re inside or outside eating the edibles,” Weldon said at the meeting. “What I do have a problem with is the smoke.”

The Assembly added marijuana smoke to the city’s indoor smoking ban in 2015 after recreational marijuana became legal. It updated the smoking restrictions last fall, including adding marijuana vaping.

At Monday night’s meeting, Weldon proposed an amendment to the ordinance to only allow vaping outside, but it failed.

Several community members testified both in favor of and against the ordinance.

Business owners like John Nemeth, who co-owns the Juneau-based marijuana company Top Hat Concentrates, encouraged the Assembly not to completely close the door on indoor smoking for future consideration.

Still, Nemeth said he was happy with Monday’s result. Until now, retailers were forced to tell customers off the cruise ships there was no place they could legally use products.

“This is a great step in the right direction,” Nemeth said. “It’s something we never thought we’d see here in Juneau and it’s giving people a safe place to consume.”

Nemeth said his business, which currently manufactures marijuana products, has plans to open a retail shop in the future.

The ordinance will take effect in 30 days. Businesses must receive an endorsement from the state Marijuana Control Board before they can offer on-site consumption.

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