Alaska brothers James and Giono Barrett have a dream: that some of the scores of cruise ship passengers who crowd the streets of the state capital each summer will one day use their shore excursions to kick back and light up a joint in a pot store’s lounge.
The Barretts own Juneau’s first marijuana retail store and want to tap into the $260 million or so that tourists dropped in the small coastal city last year.
Regulators could decide soon whether to make that happen. At a meeting Thursday in Juneau, they will consider allowing marijuana retail stores statewide to provide separate areas of their businesses for onsite consumption.
It’s the first time the matter has been addressed at the state level in the U.S., said Chris Lindsey, a senior legislative counsel with the Marijuana Policy Project. Recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Denver is considering licenses for marijuana social clubs.
Even if the Alaska board approves onsite consumption, don’t expect to walk into a store on Friday for a sit-and-smoke. Retail stores must file applications for such a lounge, which includes how it will be separated from the retail operation and ventilated and what is the security plan. Many retail stores will also have to get waivers on local ordinances banning smoking.
Critics fear an Amsterdam-like scene and pot spilling out of the retail stores onto streets and trails. They hope the state pot board on puts in place restrictions to keep onsite consumption from happening.