After loosening marijuana distribution regulations due to COVID-19, Alaska is now looking to make those emergency measures permanent in a post-COVID Alaska.
On Nov. 23, the state’s Marijuana Control Board adopted emergency regulations that allow for internet and phone orders of marijuana, as well as curbside pickup. This order is set to expire in March 2021 unless they become permanent.
In 2014 just over 53% of Alaskans voted to legalize recreational marijuana. This allowed adults, age 21 and over, to possess an ounce of weed and cultivate six plants. This went into effect in 2015. The law also permitted the state to regulate pot shops, which began opening in 2016. There are now more than 100 across the state.
According to a state report from 2020 (which covers up to 2017) 22% of Alaska high school students use pot at least once a month. That translates to about 9,000 youth who “may be at risk for a variety of health, social and legal consequences.”
Among Alaska adults, 10% use weed at least 20 days a month. That’s about 54,000 adults who are “using at levels that may be considered risky,” the state reports. Additionally, 9% of pregnant and breastfeeding women used marijuana at least once while they were pregnant.
These numbers are likely rising according to a May 2020 report which found that 28% of Alaska’s marijuana users say they imbibe more weed since COVID hit.
When COVID-19 hit Alaska, the state and many local communities deemed pot shops “essential services,” and allowed them to stay open even when similar entities, such as bars and restaurants, were forced to close. Just four years after legalizing weed, the state’s Marijuana Control Board claimed that, due to COVID, curbside and phone orders for marijuana are “necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health, safety, or general welfare.”
Comments or questions on the proposed regulation changes must be received by Jan. 4, 2021. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Marijuana Control Office
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1600
Anchorage, AK 99501.
The Marijuana Control Office will aggregate its responses to similar type questions and post those at the state’s Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office website. For more information, contact Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office at 907-269-0490. A copy of the emergency regulation is available here.