In yet another example of the impact of industry influence on public health rule-making, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board approved rules (3-2) yesterday to allow marijuana smoking, vaping, and consuming edibles indoors in stand-alone retail shops that have been granted an onsite consumption endorsement. The three yes votes came from the two marijuana/cannabis industry representatives on the Board and the public safety representatives. The two no votes were from the public health and chair/rural representatives.
This decision is the result of persistent and relentless efforts over three years by the marijuana industry representatives on the Marijuana Control Board to promote onsite consumption over the objections of citizens who are concerned about health and safety, and are disturbed by the constant efforts to normalize marijuana use in Alaska.
The marijuana industry has taken pages directly out of Big Tobacco’s playbook by never taking no as an answer from the public, who continually voiced opposition to onsite consumption during previous comment periods, and working until they get a yes majority vote for bringing marijuana smoking indoors. Since many states have marijuana/cannabis representatives that serve on regulatory boards, it may be appropriate that they be required to recuse themselves from votes about public health policies like smoking/vaping indoors.
The new onsite consumption regulations will significantly roll-back current smokefree protections in Alaska by allowing smoking in marijuana shops where workers and the public will be exposed to the health risks of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure. Worker health and public health should take priority over profits from marijuana sales and enabling consumption. For example, recent research shows that particle concentrations from dabbing and vaporizing cannabis can create levels of indoor air pollution similar as those seen in extreme air pollution events like wildfires and severe industrial pollution. Exposure at these concentrations can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease. All workplaces in Alaska should be free from exposure to secondhand smoke of all kinds, including marijuana.
Read more about Marijuana Smoke here