About 2 1/2 oz. of dried marijuana is weighed in this 2015 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

About 2 1/2 oz. of dried marijuana is weighed in this 2015 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Alaska to consider allowing curbside pot pickup

Decision could come before April 20.

The Alaska marijuana industry wants approval to take orders online and over the phone for curbside pickup, allowing businesses to stay open while they limit interaction with the public during the coronavirus outbreak.

The state board overseeing the industry plans to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to adopt emergency rules. If so, the regulations would be limited to 120 days or as long as the state’s public health emergency lasts, whichever is shorter, according to the proposal.

Retail cannabis shops would need to verify customers are at least 21 and have surveillance cameras in areas where orders are picked up.

Other states have allowed curbside pickup amid the pandemic. Emergency rules in Colorado, for example, allow customers to pay online and pick up their orders at the store.

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board discussed curbside pickup and transporting cannabis products last week but made no final decisions.

“All of these things are being talked about to allow for less human contact, more distance between people. None of these things make us more money or are profitable changes for this industry,” Lacy Wilcox, president of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association board, said Tuesday.

She said it would cost businesses some money upfront to ensure they had the necessary infrastructure in place.

Most cannabis operations in Alaska have been able to stay open so far, with stores limiting the number of people inside, Wilcox said.

Alaska’s stay-at-home order outlines businesses considered essential, such as grocery stores, gas stations and shipping services. It includes a provision allowing other businesses to stay open if they can maintain social distancing and don’t have more than 10 people gather inside at once, including employees.

The marijuana industry falls under a new law and steps taken by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to ease financial burdens on businesses during the pandemic.

Due dates have been pushed to July 15 for such things as paying taxes and filing tax returns, said Kelly Mazzei with the state Department of Revenue. The state still is taking tax payments from businesses that want to pay them on the normal schedule, she said by email.

Cultivators are responsible for paying the state tax levied on marijuana.

• This is an Associated Press report by Becky Bohrer.

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