Legislator seeks delay in marijuana-concentrates regulations

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Saturday, January 17, 2015 7:45pm
  • News

JUNEAU — A Homer legislator has proposed delaying regulations for marijuana concentrates to allow officials to focus this year on rules for the sale and growth of legalized pot and licensing of marijuana businesses.

But Timothy Hinterberger, the chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Alaska, said the bill would “defy the will of the voters” and open the state to litigation, “which it would surely lose.”

Republican Rep. Paul Seaton, the incoming chair of the House Health and Social Services Committee, said Friday that he wants regulations taken up in manageable units so there can be adequate time for consideration.

The delay proposed in the legislation, HB 59, would apply to marijuana concentrates and the chemical extraction of the psychoactive ingredient THC, he said. It would delay regulations related to the manufacturing, delivery, possession, sale, packaging or display of marijuana concentrates, calling for those rules to be finalized by November 2016 “in response to the difficulties other jurisdictions have found in unintended consequences of regulations permitting marijuana concentrates,” according to the text of the bill.

The bill also says in a section outlining its intent that during the delay, activities related to marijuana concentrates would remain illegal and may form the basis for revoking an establishment license or for the seizure or forfeiture of assets.

Alaska voters last year approved legalizing the recreational use of pot by those 21 and older. While the initiative takes effect Feb. 24, the state has until this November to write regulations.

Alaska is one of four states where voters have approved legalizing recreational marijuana.

Hinterberger said in a statement that the Legislature has important roles to play in creating effective marijuana policy “but delaying implementation of the initiative is not one of them, nor is changing the definition of marijuana that the voters approved in November,” he said.

“The state should move forward with implementing what Alaska voters approved, not try to roll it back,” he said. Marijuana concentrate is included in the initiative’s definition of marijuana.

Similar concerns were raised by the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation.

Seaton said he spoke with pot-initiative supporters at a recent forum who did not oppose splitting marijuana concentrates for separate consideration of regulations.

The bill was part of a second group of bills filed ahead of the start of the legislative session and released on Friday. The scheduled 90-day session begins Tuesday.

Other bills include:

—HB 57, from Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, calling for voters to provide photo identification or two forms of ID that do not have photos, such as a certified copy of a birth certificate. Lynn was a sponsor of a similar bill in 2013 that failed to gain traction.

—HB 60, from House Democratic Leader Chris Tuck of Anchorage, related to the reporting and handling of sexual assault cases in the Alaska National Guard.

—SB 12, from Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, calling for minimum paid sick leave for employees of certain businesses with at least 15 workers. Currently, lower-wage workers often do not get paid sick time, he said.

—SB 17, also from Wielechowski, would require signed, written responses and rationales for denials of requests for public records. He said this is a response to requests that he and others made under the prior administration that he said were not responded to by the state.

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