Anchorage Assembly weighs public safety and on-site inhalation of marijuana

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The Anchorage Assembly's public safety and health policy committees held a joint meeting Friday to discuss how a proposed ordinance to allow on-site inhalation of marijuana could affect public safety.

One concern: the effects of cannabis on drivers, and the potential for impairment.

“What kind of training are they gonna be required to do to mitigate the risk of public safety, to identify the signs of impairment?” asked one officer from the Anchorage Police Department.

Assembly member Chris Constant says training is being developed for employees to recognize when a patron shouldn't drive, similar to how bartenders are trained to identify someone too drunk to drive. But other Assembly members say that conflicts with another public safety concern.

"We want to keep the employees separate from them because of the legitimate concerns about secondhand smoke,” said Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, who co-sponsored the ordinance. “On the other hand, that does create some issues versus alcohol, where they wouldn't have that constant contact to see how intoxicated they are."

Solutions such as proper ventilation and outdoor smoking areas were suggested, but those raised more questions.

“How do we ensure that someone, as they become intoxicated, doesn't inappropriately discard their, whatever they're smoking with, and cause a fire?" asked Anchorage Fire Chief Jodie Hettrick.

Dunbar says the assembly will continue discussing those issues. “Those kind of codes will be written after the central question is ... resolved by the people of Anchorage, yes or no."

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