Alaskan Legislator Wants A Separate Cannabis Control Board

   

On Election Day 2014 Alaska voters approved a cannabis legalization initiative. The campaign slogan that the initiative was based upon was ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol.’ The Alaskan Alcoholic Beverage Control Board was the default governing agency that would oversee cannabis legalization implementation and regulation. However, at least on lawmaker in Alaska wants to see a completely new control board oversee cannabis in Alaska. Per ADN.Com:

McGuire said Thursday she intends to introduce legislation that would create a marijuana control board charged with crafting and implementing marijuana rules. McGuire, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to make it clear that the Legislature will be addressing marijuana legalization. With that, she feels the first step is creating a separate board to regulate the substance.

The authority to do that is one of the few clear requests Ballot Measure 2 specifically makes of the Legislature. However, it only indicates that it “may create” the board — not that it must. Per the initiative, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is in charge of marijuana unless a new organization is formed. With the board moving swiftly, some involved in marijuana legalization find themselves mulling whether a separate board should exist.

Taylor Bickford said the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska is still analyzing the pros and cons of whether to create a marijuana control board. Jeff Jessee, CEO of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and a volunteer with the group opposing Ballot Measure 2, said he has no stance either way on whether the ABC Board or a newly created board should handle marijuana rules.

So far, Colorado is considered to be the best standard of successful cannabis legalization implementation as Washington State has taken a much more deliberate approach. However, it’s worth noting that Colorado already had a system in place for medical cannabis sales, unlike Washington. Oregon’s Measure 91 also tabbed the state’s liquor control board to regulate marijuana, while keeping medical marijuana sales under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Health Authority.

Alaska, like Washington, also didn’t regulate medical marijuana sales first. Will Alaska ultimately create a new governing agency specifically for cannabis, or will they keep alcohol and marijuana under the same regulatory banner? Only time will tell, and it’s a situation worth monitoring. Creating a completely new control board could potentially delay implementation in Alaska.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.