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News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator McGuire
Share this on TwitterShare on FacebookFor Immediate Release: February 25, 2015

New Legislation Addresses Marijuana Taxation & Licensing

Bill works in concert with decriminalization & marijuana board bills also under consideration

JUNEAU-The Senate Judiciary Committee today introduced legislation which deals with the licensing and taxation of marijuana-related operations.   Senate Bill 62 is regulatory legislation intended to work in conjunction with Senate Bill 30, which decriminalizes marijuana in Alaska’s statutes, as well as Senate Bill 60, which sets up the Marijuana Control Board.   SB62 also clarifies vague or omitted information from the voter initiative passed last November related to licensing and taxation matters and reinforces the concept that commercial marijuana licenses are a privilege, not a right.

“The bill represents another piece in the puzzle we must solve as we work to build a strong framework for the commercialization of marijuana in Alaska,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage.  “I think this bill helps provide Alaskans with the answers to questions they’ve had for a while: Who can grow and sell Marijuana? Where can it be sold and grown? How will I know how potent it is?  And what are we doing to keep it out of the hands of kids?”

One of the major purposes of the bill is to put regulations in place to protect children.  The legislation includes provisions to require retailers to put all marijuana products, including edibles, in child-proof containers before the items leave the store or other licensed location.  The packaging must also be clearly labeled and may not be marked or designed in a way which could entice kids.  The bill also bans issuing licenses to a marijuana retailer if the business would be located within 200 feet of school grounds, churches with regularly scheduled services, or correctional facilities. 

SB62 also defines rules regarding potency.  Under the legislation, the potency as well as a certification of safety must be included on the container of any marijuana products.  Also, individual doses of edible marijuana can only contain 10 milligrams or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and each dose must be individually wrapped.   The bill also states the Marijuana Control Board must adopt regulations regarding the potency, safety, and medical characteristics of medical marijuana. 

The bill seeks to clarify that any marijuana operations, whether growing or selling, shall be licensed by the State rather than registered.  In addition, the bill sets out what kinds of licenses can be issued including: marijuana producer license, marijuana processor license, marijuana retailer license, marijuana boutique producer license, marijuana broker license, and marijuana home grower license.    The bill also states the Commissioner for Department of Environmental Conservation shall inspect and certify all marijuana testing facilities. 

SB62 also specifies that in order to be licensed to sell marijuana in Alaska, the person must be a resident of the state for at least a year.  If it’s a corporation or partnership, anyone with more than a 10-percent stake of the business must be a resident.    In addition, the bill calls for the Board to require fingerprints and criminal background checks as part of the licensing application process.

“Our responsibility is to prioritize public safety and align our criminal statutes,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole.  “The Judiciary Committee has done an excellent job of reviewing, in a disciplined manner, all marijuana issues thus far.  I expect that to continue.”

“I know our committee members are working really hard to get this right,” said Senator McGuire.  “There are more issues to deal with and work to be done, but I am confident we have the right group of people heading in the right direction to carry out the intent of the voters while protecting our communities and our children.”

SB62 was referred to the Senate State Affairs, Labor and Commerce, and Finance Committees for further consideration.

For more information, please contact Jesse Logan in Senator McGuire’s office at (907) 465-2995 or Chad Hutchison in Senator Coghill’s office at (907) 465-3719.