Alaska eases rules on marijuana ads and sampling, eyes tax reform

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Alaska is easing restrictions on marijuana advertising and product sampling, the latest step toward liberalizing the state’s cannabis program as state lawmakers also contemplate MJ tax reform.

The revised rules take effect Oct. 8 after being signed into law by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom.

The new regulations:

  • Remove restrictions on the number, placement and size of signs for cannabis businesses and make those signs subject to local laws.
  • Allow cannabis advertisements on buses, bus shelters and college campuses, while maintaining some other restrictions on where ads can be placed.
  • Enable cannabis stores to offer free samples.

“I’m not expecting bags of marijuana to go out the door,” Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Director Joan Wilson told the Alaska Beacon.

Meanwhile, Alaska’s cannabis industry hopes legislators will pass a tax relief bill in the face of an unusually high tax burden.

House Bill 119 would cut the $50 per ounce excise tax currently paid by cannabis cultivators to $12.50 and establish a retail sales tax on cannabis.

The proposed retail tax was originally 3%, then changed to 10%.

Despite Alaska’s high marijuana taxes, state cannabis tax revenue fell year-over-year between fiscal years 2021 and 2022, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

A representative of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association told a recent legislative hearing that Alaska’s regulated cannabis industry is “in survival mode.”