Attorney General Opinion Declares Unlicensed Marijuana Social Clubs Illegal
August 31, 2016
August 31, 2016 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth issued an opinion today on the legal status of “marijuana social clubs.” These clubs call themselves private social clubs but operate like businesses, inviting members of the public to consume marijuana on the premises in exchange for a fee. The Attorney General’s opinion, requested by the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, makes clear that consuming marijuana at these places is unlawful. The opinion also clarifies that offering marijuana samples to paying patrons may violate state criminal law against distributing marijuana without a valid commercial license.
“When Alaskans voted in 2014 to liberalize personal use of marijuana and to allow a commercial marijuana industry, they also voted to prohibit public consumption of marijuana,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Unlicensed marijuana social clubs are public places like any other place of business—such as cafes, movie theaters, or retail stores—where marijuana consumption is not allowed by law.”
Since the 2014 ballot initiative legalizing commercial marijuana, a five-member Marijuana Control Board appointed by Governor Bill Walker has adopted rules for commercial marijuana establishments and has begun licensing industry participants. In a limited exception to the general ban on public consumption, the Board has authorized licensed retail marijuana stores to allow people to consume marijuana on the premises. Marijuana social clubs, which are not licensed by the Board, do not fall within this exception.
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