Alaska becomes first state to legalize ‘cannabis cafes’

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Alaska is taking steps to provide cannabis consumers with the privilege of lighting up a joint inside “social consumption” spaces.

The state recently passed a law permitting social cannabis consumption inside specially licensed retail locations. This new law would enable people to purchase and smoke cannabis inside Amsterdam-style “cannabis cafes” that are affiliated with properly licensed dispensaries statewide.

Cannabis connoisseurs will be able to purchase their pot and consume it on the same premises, thanks to the rule. Executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, Cary Carrigan, said that the state’s social consumption rule is “not happening anywhere else in the U.S. yet.”

Don’t social cannabis consumption spaces already exist in the U.S.?, they do. Licensed establishments can be found in California and Denver, Colorado. In fact, Colorado has its very own lounge called The Coffee Joint.

Although you can eat edibles and vape cannabis inside The Coffee Joint, no open flame is allowed. The social cannabis consumption cafe does not allow customers to buy the goods onsite either.

Colorado’s bill to approve licensing for public cannabis cafes was vetoed by Governor John Hickenlooper in June last year. Then there’s the Californian cities of San Francisco, Oakland and West Hollywood, where cannabis businesses can obtain a license that permits on-site consumption.

In spite of the existing social cannabis consumption spaces, Alaska is the first U.S. state to pass a social cannabis consumption law at the state level. This is a big step in the right direction for granting cannabis consumers the same freedom that people who drink alcohol in bars have.  

What does Alaska’s onsite cannabis consumption rule entail? this month, Alaska’s Republican Lieutenant Governor, Kevin Meyer, signed Alaska’s onsite cannabis consumption bill into law.

What this means for statewide cannabis businesses is that they can now legally provide their customers with a social space to smoke, vape or eat their weed.

Based on the details of Alaska’s onsite cannabis consumption rule, social smoking lounges should be divided by a secure door or wall. There is also the option of positioning the consumption space outdoors.

It should be noted that Alaska’s cannabis businesses will not be licensed to allow onsite consumption if they are not housed in a freestanding building. The reason for this is because lawmakers are concerned that smoke plumes may waft into nearby businesses.  

A second license must be procured by Alaska’s cannabis businesses if they want to transform into a social consumption lounge. Applicants are anticipating the date on which they can apply for a license, with the application process expected to begin very soon.

Expect to see a wave of Alaska’s social cannabis lounges ushering in customers by this summer.