Culture

Ketchikan marijuana retailer again offering onsite smoking

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A marijuana retailer in Ketchikan is again offering onsite consumption of cannabis, months after the pandemic temporarily shuttered that part of the business.

Kanoe Zantuya, an owner of Cannabis Corner, said a small indoor consumption area has reopened, attracting locals and tourists.

“Some people just need a spot where they can smoke and it’s legal,” Zantuya told Alaska’s News Source. “There are other people who just like the idea of smoking in a cannabis lounge.”

The lounge tied to the store a few miles outside Ketchikan offers couches, a fireplace, TV, record player, a free arcade game and adult coloring books. The lounge had been open for about three weeks in October before closing amid the pandemic.

“I’d say 95% of the people who come in end up coloring at some point,” Zantuya said.

Among other requirements, retailers offering onsite consumption must have ventilation systems and pay about $3,000 for a license. There are daily limits on how much cannabis a customer can consume.

Keagan Widmier, a 28 year-old construction worker from Sitka, visited the lounge recently with his brother, Sage Widmier.

“This is the first legal smoking room I’ve ever been in,” he said. “It’s definitely a nice treat after work, a nice way to relax.”

They smoked a joint and played an arcade game before taking a taxi to play football. The store requires customers to either have a designated driver or order a taxi.

Cannabis Corner and Good Titrations in Fairbanks are both offering onsite consumption, while two other stores in Alaska have received approval but have not yet opened.

Onsite consumption solves a problem for tourists who have been allowed to buy marijuana in Alaska but can’t legally consume it in public without risking a $100 fine.

Lacy Wilcox, president of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association board, said having onsite consumption as as option is “brilliant. Otherwise we are making criminals of our tourists.”

Rainforest Farms, a marijuana retail store in Juneau, plans to close in September and reopen in November as a cannabis café, serving edibles only. Co-owner James Barrett hopes to get state approval in October for onsite consumption. That would be well ahead of next year’s cruise season, when hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Alaska.