Joint Session to Address Marijuana Decriminalization As Municipalities Scramble to Regulate

 

 

Senate Bill 30 has a deadline of February 24th in order to meet the requirements of Ballot Measure 2.
Senate Bill 30 has a deadline of February 24th in order to meet the requirements of Ballot Measure 2.

Republican Senator Lesil McGuire of Anchorage has introduced the first large-scale bill regulating marijuana like alcohol in Alaska. The measure includes fine points that lawmakers, police, and the public need to adapt November’s Ballot Measure 2 into a legal framework.

Senate Bill 30 lays out a new, more specific definition of marijuana that includes derivatives like hash oil, as well as byproducts like hemp. McGuire says the bill is the first of three that will come out of the Judiciary committee.

“It decriminalizes marijuana in the case of 21-year-old Alaskan adults using marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses,” McGuire said, for, “up to one ounce.”

The legal defense for transport of marijuana is defined, as well, something the 1975 Ravin decision did not cover even after sanctioning personal use.

McGuire’s bill comes as government bodies across the state are mobilizing on measures to create boundaries for legal marijuana use that will be clear to both the public and police. Under SB-30, for example, you cannot drive with “an open marijuana container,” which is further defined as everything from paraphernalia to a broken seal on packaging. Similarly, there is a mechanism for ticketing open consumption—something the city of Anchorage is currently considering.

Myron Fanning is deputy chief for the Anchorage Police Department, and said a big concern in implementing the new laws is squaring local rules with those being drafted by the Legislature.

“One of the big challenges is telling my officers what they can and can’t do,” he explained. Fanning was part of a delegation the city of Anchorage sent to Colorado for a recent conference on what has been learned a year in to its legalization.

Deputy Clerk Amanda Moser  also attended, and thought the conference helped officials learn about different strategies to address many of the unanticipated issues arising from legalization.

“One of my main take-aways from the conference was we don’t have to re-invent the wheel here in the municipality of Anchorage,” Moser said after the delegates presented to an Assembly committee looking into commercialization. “We can take what Colorado has done over the last year, what’s been successful, what hasn’t been successful, and use that as we begin to write our regulations.”

SB-30 will be introduced to a joint hearing between the Senate and House Judiciary committees on Monday.