Where can you go to smoke a little cannabis? That was a question tackled this week by the state Marijuana Control Board.
On site consumption has been a thorny issue since cannabis was legalized for recreational use in 2014, but retailers were given something of an early Christmas present this week when the board voted on the issue. It heard more than three hours of testimony Wednesday, fairly evenly split between industry advocates looking to expand their customer base and a number of healthcare professionals that had concerns public safety concerns .
Patricia Patterson told the board she has a lot of tourists come to her store, High Bush Buds in Soldotna, and leave without a legal place to consume what they’ve just bought.
“This is probably the biggest thing we face in retail is the question of where can I consume? And basically the answer is no place. So does that mean they are buying from my store and not consuming? No. I’m a complete supporter of onsite consumption because it does give this board and the licensees that apply for onsite consumption, control of where consumption is and the ability to educate at the same time.”
Mark Woodward is a co-owner of the Stoney Moose in Ketchikan, where he gets a lot of cruise ship passengers through the doors.
“The demand is there. Not only from the cruise ships, but locals as well. And with the rise of Uber and the rise of ridesharing companies, it really is easier for the industry to support and promote those types of things. Let us find ways to assist getting and Uber and taking cabs and stuff like that.”
Woodward’s idea is to give customers a 30 minute limit to use cannabis products on site, that way staff can sort of keep an eye on things, much like a bartender. But there’s still a public health question.
A number of medical professionals testified to the board, not always in opposition to using cannabis, but certainly to smoking it in public. Dr. Matthew Springer has done research on the effects of marijuana smoke in a lab setting at the University of California San Francisco. He says at the end of the day, whether you’re talking tobacco or cannabis, inhaling the smoke of burnt organic matter just isn’t all that healthy.
“For a number of reasons, people in public have assumed that marijuana second hand smoke is somehow harmless, despite the fact the smoke contains thousands of chemicals that you get when you burn plant material. You get it from tobacco smoke, wood smoke, forest fires. It’s like inhaling a whole chemistry lab when you are inhaling smoke. And people have assumed that despite that, marijuana smoke is ok. What we have done is offer evidence that there’s at least one adverse cardiovascular effect caused by tobacco smoke that also is caused by marijuana smoke.”
The board didn’t initially give much indication how or even if it might eventually make any rule changes, but did vote on the issue Thursday, approving on-site marijuana consumption by a 3-2 vote.
This week's number: 1.2 billion
That’s how many dollars ConocoPhillips intends to put into its Alaska portfolio in 2019. And it’s a slight bump from last year, when the company’s capital expenditures in the state totaled $900 million. Alaska spending represents about 20 percent of Conoco’s global capital.
The company will focus on the North Slope, and specifically the Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve. Four to six appraisal wells are planned to be drilled this winter. And all of this with an assumption of continued low oil prices, which have dropped by almost $30 a barrel since October. The price of brent crude is down to $57 and ConocoPhillips is planning it operations around an even lower price point of less than $40.