Alaska: It’s not too late to submit written comments supporting on-site cannabis consumption rules

Written comments can be submitted by email until 4:30 tomorrow, November 1

The Marijuana Control Board is still accepting written comments on proposed rules for on-site use, which may be submitted by email until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, November 1. Oral comments may also be submitted at a hearing to be held on Wednesday, December 19.

A link to the state’s announcement on the public comment period is available here, and the proposed rules are available here. Those who would like to submit comments by email may direct them to amco.regs@alaska.gov.

Under the proposal, a retailer could obtain an endorsement allowing it to sell adults 21 or over up to a gram of cannabis, which could be consumed at the premises. Products containing THC or other cannabis ingredients could also be sold, in addition to non-cannabis food and non-alcoholic beverages. Concentrates would be prohibited. Significant security and access provisions would apply, but these seem reasonable, and local communities would have final say.

Adoption of the proposed rules would be a significant step forward and a solution to a pressing challenge, and it is likely these rules would provide a model for other states considering on-site use.

Please consider contributing to the discussion and submitting your comments in support, and please forward this message to those in your network!

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And the fattest bear in Alaska is … 409 Beadnose

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) – In an Alaska clash of tubby titans that has become a social media sensation, a shaggy, brown and possibly pregnant mother known as 409 Beadnose was crowned on Tuesday as Fattest Bear of 2018.

A shaggy, brown and possibly pregnant mother bear known as 409 Beadnose, crowned on Tuesday as Fattest Bear of 2018, is seen on the bank of Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, U.S., September 30, 2018. Courtesy NPS/Handout via REUTERS

Beadnose nosed out a larger Alaska brown bear, a male called 747 – and likened to a jumbo jet – in online votes collected by staff at Katmai National Park and Preserve during a wildly popular event called Fat Bear Week. Male bears are bigger but Beadnose was deemed to be more rotund.

“Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab,” the park said on its Facebook page. “Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory.”

Katmai, which hugs the mountainous Gulf of Alaska coast, is known for its massive, salmon-chomping ursine residents.

October, the month before bears go into their dens to hibernate, is when the animals work the hardest to build the body fat they need to survive winter. And October is a perfect time for nature lovers to watch Katmai’s livestream video as the park’s brown bears do their pre-hibernation gorging.

Fat Bear Week may be fun and games for human spectators, but it is serious business for bears, said Andrew LaValle, a Katmai ranger who is in charge of most of the park’s social media postings.

  “This might be entertaining, especially with these beautiful majestic animals, but this is a life-or-death struggle,” he said. The bears have to eat a year’s worth of food in a few months but really start to chow down in June when sockeye salmon begin swimming upstream through the park to spawn. Bears can lose a third of their body weight while hibernating, LaValle said.

Fat Bear Week got its start in 2014 as a one-day educational event called Fat Bear Tuesday, LaValle said. It became a week-long event the next year.

Throughout the past week, park staffers have posted photos of individual bears and gathered input from viewers who selected favorites in a bracketed, tournament-style competition. This year’s competition started with 12 bears before reaching Tuesday’s Beadnose-747 faceoff.

Luckily for Katmai bears, their home holds a river teeming with fish from the world’s largest natural salmon runs. The Brooks River is a spawning site for salmon based in southwestern Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Reporting by Yereth Rosen, editing by Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Alaska: Marijuana Control Board issues proposed on-site consumption rules

Board seeks public input, with written comments due by November 1

The Marijuana Control Board, which oversees the state’s regulatory system for cannabis, has released proposed rules governing on-site consumption of cannabis at approved locations. Members of the public are invited to review and provide written comments on the proposed rules by 4:30 p.m. on November 1.

A link to the state’s page announcing the proposed rules is available here, and a copy of the rules themselves is here.

Under the proposal, a retailer in a freestanding location could obtain an endorsement to sell adults 21 or over up to a gram of cannabis, which could be consumed at the premises. Products containing up to 10mg THC could also be available, although concentrates would be prohibited. Retailers could provide non-alcoholic drinks and non-cannabis foods. Significant security and access provisions apply, but these seem reasonable.

The proposal would close a significant gap. Currently, adult consumers have nowhere to consume cannabis except in private residences, presenting significant problems for tourists visiting Alaska, who often don’t have access.

Written public comments are due no later than November 1. The board will also hold a public hearing, currently scheduled for December 19 in Anchorage. Those who want to provide comments in person are invited to present them at that time.

If you are an Alaska resident, please consider adding your voice in support of sensible rules for consumers, and help spread the word and forward this message to others in your network!

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Alaska Labs Return Widely Different Test Results for Marijuana Samples

By Lauren Williams and Lesley Nickus A report released by Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with the Alcohol and Marijuana Office (AMCO), revealed widely varied readings by two cannabis lab testing facilities on the same plant. The report, released June 4, 2018, performed data validation on samples AMCO submitted to CannTest and Steep […]
Marijuana

Alaska Police Chief Named to Marijuana Board; Illinois Lawmakers Consider Cannabis as Opioid Remedy

Police chief named to Alaska marijuana regulatory board By Becky Bohrer JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The police chief of the small southeast Alaska city of Sitka is the newest member of the state’s Marijuana Control Board. Gov. Bill Walker’s office confirmed Thursday, May 24, 2018, that Jeff Ankerfelt had been appointed to the board’s public […]
Marijuana

Short-Handed Alaska Marijuana Board Tables Social Use Talks

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Marijuana regulators have tabled until June action on draft rules for allowing people to consume marijuana in authorized retail stores in Alaska. Erika McConnell, the director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, had recommended that the Marijuana Control Board put the draft regulations out for public comment. But the board […]
Marijuana

Weekly Legislative Schedule: Marijuana Bills Get Hearings in Alaska, Colorado, and Missouri

Legislation seeking to establish The Alaska State Bank for marijuana deposits gets a hearing Monday; Colorado contemplates bill for pilot marijuana delivery program Wednesday – and a Missouri proposal to legalize marijuana in the Show Me State receives a hearing Tuesday. It’s springtime in America, and the winds of ideological change are in the air. […]
Marijuana

United flight diverted to Alaska after man spreads feces in lavatories

(Reuters) – A United Airlines flight from Chicago to Hong Kong was diverted to Alaska after the flight crew reported a man on board had vandalized two airplane lavatories by spreading human waste, airport police said on Friday.

“We received a report of a passenger who had messed up the bathrooms with his own feces,” Anchorage Airport Police Lieutenant Joe Gamache said by telephone.

The man, a 22-year-old Vietnamese passport holder with U.S. residency, was escorted off the plane in handcuffs on Thursday night and met by law enforcement in the terminal, Gamache said.

After being interviewed by authorities through a translator, he was transported to an Anchorage hospital for a mental evaluation.

The man made no threats and did not try to interfere with the flight crew, Gamache said, adding that no charges have been filed.

United Airlines, owned by United Continental Holdings Inc, said there were 245 people on board the plane and said it provided hotel accommodations for its customers.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Leslie Adler

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Voters Defeat Business Bans in Alaska

Three measures aimed at banning cannabis businesses were soundly defeated in Tuesday’s Alaska elections. Voters in the city of Fairbanks, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough each rejected measures aimed at banning cannabis businesses.

This is fantastic news! Huge congratulations go out to all those who voted, and the many supporters and advocates who worked hard in opposition. Your great work paid off!

All indications are that the measures were defeated by wide margins. The KPB’s unofficial result was 64% in opposition, with the city of Fairbanks estimated at 69% and FNSB’s estimate at a whopping 70%.

If the prohibitionists had succeeded, businesses would have been shuttered, taking jobs and livelihoods with them, and adult consumers would have been cut off from legal, regulated access. But just as they have in other legalization states like Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, voters continue to support the better approach.

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Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to amco.regs@alaska.gov, or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.

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Alaska and Washington Aren’t Putting up With Jeff Sessions’ Crap

The states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all received letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on July 24 where he questioned their recreational marijuana programs. If we haven’t repeated this enough, Jeff sessions hates marijuana and believes a lot of myths about it. How did they respond? Well, Alaska and Washington at least didn’t take it too kindly.

Sessions’ letter claimed there were serious health and safety concerns connected to these recreational marijuana programs.

“Your letter … makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information,” Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote in response. “Some of the statistics cited in your letter are simply incorrect, or based on misreading of their context.”

So, not surprisingly, Sessions was using skewed data to prove his existing opinion.

“Your letter repeatedly fails to distinguish between marijuana activity that is legal and illegal
under state law,” the response letter reads. “Instead, it conflates the two in a manner that implies that state-legal marijuana activity is responsible for harms actually caused by illegal marijuana activity.”

The letter also discussed the issue of states’ rights at certain points, which as a Republican, Sessions should understand.

The letter claims these men have tried to set up meetings with Sessions, but he has been unwilling to arrange any. It seems rather than actually converse with people running these programs, who have seen the successes and areas where they can be improved, Sessions would rather scream about how marijuana is a gateway drug that makes you insane.

“As the industry matures and new issues develop, we will continue to refine the regulatory framework and remain open to accommodating federal concerns,” the letter reads.

It’s unlikely meeting anyone is ever going to change Sessions’ mind about marijuana, but maybe he’ll give up on going after this thriving and beneficial industry at some point.

[Photo by Thomas Sørenes/Wikimedia]

The 420 Times

Jeff Sessions Replies to Letter From Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington Governors

Colorado’s cannabis industry has been holding its collective breath ever since President Donald Trump nominated Jeff Sessions for attorney general. And since he was sworn in, Sessions, a proponent of the war on drugs, hasn’t been shy about saying that marijuana should remain illegal federally.

In a proactive move, on April 3 the governors of four states with recreational cannabis businesses up and running at the time — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — sent a letter to Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, urging that federal officials “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper subsequently met privately with Sessions in Washington, D.C., and talked about how this state has been dealing with legalization. After speaking with Sessions, Hickenlooper didn’t see the feds butting in. “He has higher priorities,” Hickenlooper told Politico on August 1. “Marijuana’s not the same threat to this country as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine – and he recognizes he has limited resources. He said, ‘Listen, we’re not going to come in and shut everything down.’ We have not seen any crackdown. He really said he didn’t plan on having a crackdown.”

But even if Sessions isn’t planning a crackdown, he still has some concerns, which he shared with Hickenlooper in a letter he sent to the governor in late July; he sent similar letters to governors Bill Walker (Alaska), Kate Brown (Oregon) and Jay Inslee (Washington). Read the Colorado letter below; it’s similar to those Sessions sent to Brown and Inslee, which their staffs shared with Westword.

Sessions cites rising out-of-state diversion of marijuana, youth use, emergency-room visits and traffic deaths related to marijuana as cause for “serious questions” in his letter to Hickenlooper. The stats he uses, however, are from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report, a report that has drawn criticism for its data-collecting and presentation methods.

In his letter, Sessions also questioned the power of the Cole Memorandum – a set of guidelines from the Obama Administration designed to give federal prosecutors clarity on how to operate in states that have legalized retail marijuana – and said that the Department of Justice’s authority to enforce federal law in states that have legalized marijuana remains unaltered.

Colorado state representative Dan Pabon called the letter a “political ploy” by Sessions during a discussion about legalized marijuana at the National Conference of State Legislatures summit in Boston on August 10.

But Hickenlooper’s office has taken a more subdued stance. “We welcome the opportunity to work with the Attorney General and arrive at the most effective approach to the states and the federal government working together to protect public health, public safety and other law enforcement interests. We take the concerns shared in the letter seriously and will provide a comprehensive response,” Hickenlooper’s press secretary, Jacque Montgomery, wrote in a statement to Westword.

Read the full letter Sessions sent to Hickenlooper below:

Toke of the Town