Kenai to look at onsite marijuana consumption

The ordinance permits the activity through a conditional use permit process.

Kenai City Council will decide whether or not to allow onsite marijuana consumption in retail stores at their council meeting Wednesday night.

Alaska recently became the first state to legalize onsite cannabis consumption at retail stores, as long as they have a separate endorsement license.

The new legislation took effect April 11, and now Kenai is looking to adjust its regulations accordingly.

“While there is an opportunity for the city to prohibit onsite consumption, this ordinance permits the activity through a conditional use permit process,” according to a memo attached to the ordinance. “In order to accomplish this, the city’s zoning code and land use table are proposed to be amended to include a definition of an onsite consumption endorsement, clarify that a conditional use permit separate from a conditional use permit for the retail facility is required, and provide where the business activity is allowed in the city.”

The business’ conditional use permit must be separate from and in addition to any conditional use permit they already have for the operation of a retail marijuana store. The onsite consumption permit will only be issued to those who also have a retail marijuana store commercial use permit for the same location, according to the proposed ordinance.

State regulations will prohibit drunk and intoxicated people from entering or remaining onsite and are required to have smoke-free areas for employees to monitor the consumption area, a ventilation system that eliminates odor, security measures and procedures for handling unconsumed product.

“Outdoor consumption areas are contemplated in the regulations with additional requirements that the activity must be compatible with surrounding uses, there must be sight obscuring borders, and there is allowance for objection by property owners within 250 feet and local government objection,” according to a memo attached to the proposed ordinance.

The state requires an application for an onsite endorsement with a fee of $1,000, renewal fees of $600 and license fees of $2,000. With these endorsements, a retail marijuana store can sell products to customers in an area separated from the rest of the store, referred to as a consumption area. For consumption, only 1 gram of marijuana can be sold to a person per day, or edible products containing 10 milligrams or less of THC.