The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly took no position Thursday on a marijuana store’s plans to open a consumption lounge later this year.
No action essentially has the same effect as if the assembly had voted “no protest,” according to Jim Williams, borough chief of staff.
The state Marijuana Control Board will be notified, Williams said, while the owner of GoodSinse said he is carrying on with plans to remodel his store at 2604 Davis Road to make room for the lounge with couches, a long table and a bartop with stools. He wants to open the cafe by summer.
GoodSinse was the first company to seek assembly approval for onsite consumption.
Three assemblymen expressed concerns about customers using marijuana and then operating vehicles.
“The libertarian in me says keep the government out of my life,” Assemblyman Jimi Cash said. “But the parent, responsible adult in me is kind of concerned.”
Cash along with Assemblymen Aaron Lojewski and Frank Tomaszewski opposed a motion to file “no protest” of the lounge with the Marijuana Control Board.
Two assembly members, Christopher Quist and Marna Sanford, sat out the vote after declaring a conflict of interest.
The “no protest” motion failed 4-3. Five votes were required for passage. No other motion was made and the assembly moved on to other business.
Only one person, former Assemblyman Lance Roberts, testified. He encouraged the assembly to protest the consumption lounge based on public safety concerns.
“This is not a good idea,” he said.
Roberts said that any amount of cannabis impairs drivers. He said alcohol is different because small amounts do not impair drivers.
“With alcohol, it’s a body weight thing,” he said.
He said traffic deaths in Colorado have increased since the state legalized recreational marijuana.
He said the voters in Alaska did not have onsite consumption in mind when they approved legal recreational marijuana here. Roberts said the state Marijuana Control Board’s approval of onsite consumption was a mistake.
Tomaszewski said he is concerned about public safety because there is no mechanism for detecting a person’s level of intoxication.
Dan Peters, who owns GoodSinse, said his employees will follow all state regulations around onsite consumption and will guide and monitor customers to make sure they are consuming appropriate quantities. State regulations limit onsite consumption to one gram per day.
Peters said he will publicly post literature at his business that explains the effects of cannabis. He added that he will also be relying on customers to use common sense.
“We know we have some eyes watching us,” he said.
GoodSinse was the first Alaska company to receive conditional approval from the state Marijuana Control Board to offer onsite consumption. The board granted approval last week.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.