A lawyer advising the city of Kodiak on marijuana regulations recommended holding off on drafting city regulations until the state takes action on issues surrounding transportation to and from marijuana testing facilities.

Under state law, any marijuana sold by a retail business would first need to be tested for potency and microbes in a licensed testing facility under the oversight of a scientific director. So far, no applications for a testing facility on Kodiak Island have been submitted to the state’s Marijuana Control Board.

Without a testing facility on the island, marijuana would have to be transported to and from the island — presumably by boat or air — in order to comply with state testing laws. Doing so, however, would violate feceral law, as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and the air and water are both under federal jurisdiction.

State law could also hinder transportation to and from Kodiak. Provisions require marijuana handler permits for anyone transporting the substance and allow transportation only from one licensed facility to another with no unnecessary stops in between.

“Not only would additional people (who would be unlikely to be certified marijuana handlers) be involved, but there would likely not be a direct route from licensee to licensee — transfer to additional vehicles would probably be necessary to complete the journey,” wrote Katherine Davies of Anchorage-based Birch Horton Bitner and Cherot law firm in an Aug. 2 memorandum to the city Marijuana Advisory Committee, which reviewed it in a public meeting  Monday.

In the memo, Davies advised the city to “take the ‘watch and wait’ approach’” in crafting marijuana regulations, as deferring to the state for marijuana transportation guidelines “ensures that any challenges raised by either industry participants or federal government agencies will be aimed at the State of Alaska and not the City.”

Davies expects the state to address transportation issues once cultivation and testing facilities are operational, which will likely happen by fall.

The next meeting of the city’s Marijuana Advisory Committee will be on Aug. 22. The Kodiak Island Borough’s Marijuana Task Force is scheduled to meet Tuesday. 

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