Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board passed emergency regulations Friday, that could ease restrictions on marijuana stores as owners navigate business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many businesses in the state have closed, pot shops are permitted to stay open under state health mandates. Right now, sales are only allowed to take place as they normally would — inside the store. But, if the Governor’s office approves the board’s emergency regulations, that will change.
Board member Bruce Schulte asked business owners to take health concerns seriously despite the regulation changes.
“Please do whatever you can to protect your staff and don’t bring any negative light to what we’ve done here,” said Schulte. “Because we’re trying to help you out. So help us help you, and good luck.”
The most contentious change would allow customers to place orders over the phone or online for curbside pickup. It would also allow customers to pick up products from an exterior window.
According to the board, the goal of these regulations is to allow for more distance between customers and employees.
Christopher Jaime holds the public safety seat on the board. He argued against the change. Jaime said he doesn’t think curbside pickup is necessary right now, and said he worries the change could create problems in the future.
“We’re opening the door for the future to allow this permanently,” said Jaime. “I don’t care what’s said, that’s the way I see it. I disagree with curbside deliveries when it comes to marijuana.”
Board member Nicholas Miller, who represents the marijuana industry, pushed back.
“I don’t believe we’re going to increase public risk,” said Miller. “Whether we’re handing a purchased cannabis product to someone over the counter, or we hand it to them through the window. Somehow I can’t correlate how that becomes more dangerous.”
If these changes go into effect, business owners will be required to submit operation plans to the state.
The regulation changes passed 4-2, with Jaime and Casey Dschaak opposed.
The board also unanimously passed regulations that would allow marijuana to be transported by commercial plane or boat. The regulations require the licensee, employees or agents of licensees with a marijuana handler permit to deliver and pick up products being transported.
The regulation changes still need to be signed by the lieutenant governor. If approved, they will last for 120 days, unless the board reconvenes to remove them sooner.
Correction: This story originally stated that the regulation changes need to be approved by the Governor. Rather, they are approved by the lieutenant governor.