Anchorage Approves Cannabis Cafes, and Denver Should Too

Thanks to a ballot initiative approved last summer by the people of Alaska, Alaskans over 21 will no longer face criminal charges for possession or sharing of cannabis up to one ounce, or for cultivation of up to six plants. Like the laws in Colorado, the Alaska measure prohibits public consumption of cannabis. However, an amendment passed by the Anchorage Assembly makes an exemption for public consumption that is “authorized by a state permit or license or authorized by a municipal permit or lease.”

Basically? They just opened the door for cannabis cafes, vape lounges, edibles cafes, and a number of other potential business models.

This could end up leading nowhere, depending on how the state legislature decides to regulate cannabis retailers. It is likely that consumption may be allowed in certain licensed business locations, but sale of cannabis or infused products will not be available in these ‘cafes.’ Regardless, opening the doors for such businesses goes a long way towards solving a growing problem faced in Colorado and Washington, where citizens and tourists can purchase cannabis, but they have nowhere to consume it legally.

“We voted to control it like alcohol,” Joanne Henning of the Alaska Cannabis Association told the Ancorage Assembly, which last December overwhelmingly rejected a ban on marijuana shops. “We want a safe place to consume it like alcohol.”

This makes perfect sense. In Colorado, we get daily calls in the Leafbuyer office from tourists asking where they can light up. The truth is that technically, there isn’t anywhere they legally can. This creates a complex conundrum in which many people are ticketed for attempting to consume their cannabis in public parks or alleyways.

We hope that legislators in Colorado will take note and start allowing consumers a place to consume.