Alaska Cannabis Lounges Proceed with Caution During Pandemic

Alaska’s licensed cannabis consumption lounges have been dramatically delayed, but not defeated, by the coronavirus pandemic.

Full story after the jump.

Last year, Alaska formally approved licenses for two on-site cannabis consumption lounges, making it one of the first states to allow such businesses. However, the Associated Press reports the COVID-19 crisis has delayed, but not stopped, the social use businesses.

One lounge located in Ketchikan, Alaska opened “briefly” last year but the pandemic quickly forced owners to change directions. Another on-site consumption location in Fairbanks said they plan to open soon, more than a year after receiving the state’s approval.

Brandon Emmett — who served on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board, helped develop the regulations governing consumption lounges, and is an executive with the Fairbanks-based Good Titrations — said they are planning to open their lounge this year on 4/20. He believes the business can operate safely if they encourage patrons to wear masks indoors, something the town of Fairbanks does not do. But despite his enthusiasm for the lounge, he believes caution should prevail going forward.

“There is very much a light shining on us, and it is imperative that we at Good Titrations set the example for how it could be done responsibly.” — Brandon Emmett, via the AP

Others have also applied for onsite consumption lounges, including Joe McAneney, owner of the High Expedition Co. in Talkeetna, Alaska. McAneney said he wants to open a two-story “cigar lounge”-styled space behind his store with views of the Northern Lights and Mt. Denali, North America’s highest peak.

“To start a new business and to spend money and create … a new thing during this time, to me, it’s not very responsible; it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” McAneney said in the report.

Alaska‘s push to open cannabis consumption lounges has largely to do with cannabis tourism, according to the report, as many hotels ban smokable cannabis and public cannabis consumption remains otherwise illegal.

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