Governor suggests separate marijuana board; says pot products marketed to youth aren't OK

Gov. Bill Walker has suggested that a new board help write the regulations surrounding legalized marijuana as Alaska lawmakers work to implement rules for legal use of the drug.

Voters in November approved a ballot initiative legalizing possession and transportation of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 years and older. It also directed the state to develop regulations for a commercial industry.

In a Wednesday memo from the governor's legislative office to Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Bill Stoltze, Walker suggested that many regulations could be developed by a new marijuana board that shares resources with the existing Alcoholic Beverage Control board.

That's the approach ABC board Executive Director Cynthia Franklin has suggested and that Sen. Lesil McGuire has indicated would appear in an upcoming bill.

Walker also suggested that lawmakers consider giving the marijuana board enforcement powers and dedicated staff.

The memo also identified potential licensing issues for the Legislature to consider, including whether to grant licenses for marijuana businesses based on merit or via a lottery.

Walker also suggested that the Legislature or a regulatory board look at defining edibles with marijuana to limit serving sizes, prohibit "repackaged" products and disallow products that appeal to youth. He also suggested a public education campaign on the drug.

The initiative called for a broader definition of marijuana than is currently in some statutes, and Walker supported that definition in his memo.

He also called for a definition of a public place that matches the definition in current statute, which includes schools, parks, prisons and businesses. Under the initiative, "public" consumption is banned.