Developing State Regulations on Marijuana Mirror Alcohol, Cap Personal-Use Plants at 12

One week after a major step towards full marijuana legalization, Alaska’s legislators are working on the regulatory foundation for legal commercial sales and retail a year from now.

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On Tuesday, Representatives in the Community and Regional Affairs committee heard testimony on changes to House Bill 75, which lays out technical regulations over marijuana establishments–both private and commercial. One point of dispute was how many cannabis plants should be allowed in a single residence.

“Right now it is an unclear definition,” said Homer Republican Paul Seaton, “is it six plants in the household, or is it six per person?”

HB 75 caps the number of cannabis plants at 12 per household–only half of which may be mature–regardless of how many adults older than 21 live there. The measure is a bit more restrictive than the 18 plant cap sought by advocates.

The plant limit is a crude measure of how much potency and quantity Representatives believe a private resident is entitled to. A large part of the discussion was spent wrangling over how many gallons of beer are equivalent to the annual yield of six or 12 cannabis plants.

The majority of the bill spells out regulations for marijuana that mirror measures in place already for alcohol under Title 4 of the Alaska Statute.

“Our ongoing process, and our ongoing efforts with regard to HB 75, has been to treat the municipalities as our stakeholders, and we’re working with them to clarify any unanswered questions from the initiative language so that they know how to adapt ordinances that are consistent with the initiative,” said Heath Hilyard, Chief of Staff for Wasilla Republican Cathy Tilton, who chairs the Regional Affairs committee.

As with alcohol, municipalities will have the right to protest license applications or renewals for marijuana businesses, and set up their own civil fine schedules for violations. Similar to local option laws, communities can vote to ban the sale or commercial growth of marijuana. However, personal use–including transport of up to an ounce or six plants–remains legal.

HB 75 now moves on the House Judiciary committee.