In what was described as a “surprise” move by at least one local report, Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board on Thursday night jettisoned a proposal that would have allowed cannabis consumption at recreational marijuana retail shops.
The 3-2 vote to abandon the plan reflected fears that Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s choice for U.S. attorney general, could crack down on legalized recreational marijuana programs, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. Sessions has been an outspoken critic of marijuana use.
If the proposal had gone through, Alaska would have been the first state in the nation to allow public consumption of marijuana in adult-use shops.
In addition to concerns about Sessions, board members who voted to drop the proposal cited public comments expressing fears about second-hand cannabis smoke. And there was skepticism that ventilation technology would clear public retail spaces of cannabis smoke.
Regulators had been considering the consumption proposal for more than a year.
The vote, however, was taken amid some controversy, according to reports. Shortly before the vote, which many observers expected to pass, board members were told that previous public notices about the issue had been issued incorrectly.
The interim director of the state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, Sara Chambers, said that because of the errors, the board would be prohibited from approving the public consumption measure without an additional 30 days of public notice, the Juneau Empire reported.
Because of the snafu, at least one board member said it would be better to kill the idea than have another delay, the Juneau Empire reported.
Another board member who rejected the proposal said the idea might find more government acceptance in the future and that industry advocates should try to pass a retail consumption law through the state legislature.