The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted 3-2 today to approve emergency regulations that would allow customers to pick-up orders without entering businesses, but it will still take some time before curbside cannabis pickups can take place.
The regulations still need to be approved by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer before they go into effect. Dunleavy announced a similar set of changes for the alcohol industry earlier this week but made no mention of changes for marijuana retailers.
And even then, retailers will need to submit a request for curbside pickups with the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office outlining enhanced security measures, including video surveillance of the curbside pickup spot, and get permission from the local government. It’s a higher bar for marijuana businesses than what was approved this week for alcohol businesses, reflecting regulators’ still-wary approach to legalized recreational marijuana.
Public safety member Lt. Christopher Jamie, a wildlife trooper based in Soldotna, was strongly opposed to the regulations permitting curbside pickup, concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic was being used as an excuse to relax rules on marijuana.
The state attorney noted, though, that emergency regulations automatically expire 120 days after enactment and that the board could easily return and repeal the rules, if necessary, before then.
Board member Bruce Schulte, a public member who worked on the legalization effort, supported the regulations because it would reduce the foot traffic into the stores but warned that retailers must be careful and considerate with the new powers.
“We don’t even know if the governor’s office is going to approve both of these regulation changes but if they do it’s really, really super important that everybody recognize how sensitive the curbside delivery option is, even in the short term. Please do whatever you can to protect your staff and don’t bring any negative light to what we’ve done here,” he said. “We’re trying to help you out.”
The regulation was approved on a 3-2 vote with members Schulte, Loren Jones and Nicholas Miller supporting the measure. Jamie and member Casey Dschaak voted against it.
While the board was wary about easing customer-facing rules, it was more unified when it came to easing restrictions on the transportation of product from growers and manufacturers to retailers.
It unanimously approved regulations that would allow businesses to transport marijuana products through commercial carriers, a first for an industry that has so far relied on carry-on suitcases to transport product.
The regulations now head to the administration for approval and will go into effect once they’re signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer.
At earlier meetings, the board also eased enforcement to allow transporters to hand off product outside of the walls of the business, in a parking lot or at the airport for example. It also would allow transporters to stop overnight instead of requiring deliveries be completed in a single day.
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