DJ Summers

Owner dies day after state shut down her Anchorage cannabis club

One of the flashpoints of the nascent Alaska marijuana industry and its founder are both gone.

Pot Luck Events — the Downtown Anchorage scene of industry war meetings during the furious regulatory development stages of 2015 and unofficial social nexus for the cannabis industry — was shut down after the unofficial marijuana holiday of April 20 following pressure from the state.

Blood Bank officials say FDA found no evidence to back complaints

Complaints aired last year against the Blood Bank of Alaska are unfounded, according to bank leaders, but the results of the Food and Drug Administration investigation aren’t yet public.

The FDA visited the Blood Bank of Alaska from March 6 through March 14. During the course of the inspection, BBA leaders said the governing agency found nothing to support a series of misconduct allegations brought against them by several former and current employees in two separate complaints to the FDA in 2016.

BBA leadership said the results prove what they have said all along.

Enforcement, industry members ask for cannabis rule clarity

Alaska’s cannabis industry needs to get enforcement off its back if it wants to develop quickly enough to take advantage of the summer tourism season, but that will depend in large part on the ongoing process of clarifying regulations.

Marijuana board returns to onsite consumption regulations

The pursuit of retail onsite consumption of legal cannabis in Alaska is not going away.

The Marijuana Control Board, which crafts all regulations for the state’s cannabis industry, voted to begin a regulation project for onsite consumption only a month after voting down a set of regulations that would have advanced it.

Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office staff will review the regulations and post them for public comment before March 20, when Erika McConnell is set to take over the position of AMCO director.

Legislature considering bills to advance state mariculture

Alaska is getting closer to having a more robust seafood farming industry, potentially adding another billion dollars to the state’s economy over the next few decades.

The House Fisheries Committee perused a pair of bills on March 7 that would make changes to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s mariculture revolving loan fund and allow for more enhancement projects for Alaska king crab and other shellfish.

The worldwide market, some believe, needs Alaska’s infrastructure to develop.

Pendulum ticks toward commercial fishermen as Cook Inlet meeting wraps

The Board of Fisheries pendulum may have swung, but it’s still attached to the same clockwork.

The triennial Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting ended March 8, leaving behind a big fish goal for the Kenai River late king salmon run, potential expanded hours for the Cook Inlet drift and setnet fleets, and a brand new early run king salmon plan on the Kenai River.

Though the tone was mild compared to that of 2014, the same grudges against the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the board, and among rival user groups are bubbling away.

Senators call for cannabis clarity

Whether or not a fear of federal marijuana crackdown is justified or overblown, Congress isn’t happy with the White House.

Only days after remarking that “we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has evidently assured Congressional Republicans including legalization supporter Sen. Rand Paul that the Department of Justice will support states rights, according to Politico.

Cooler tone for Board of Fisheries as Kenai sockeye deliberations begin

Gov. Bill Walker’s Board of Fisheries shakeup either depoliticized the board or compromised it, according to different stakeholders. Either way, it certainly cooled things down.

Five days into a two-week meeting, the Board of Fisheries started deliberating a day behind schedule over nearly 200 proposals for the Upper Cook Inlet finfish fisheries, held once every three years.

State appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to overturn salmon decision

In the midst of the Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting, the battle for state management of Cook Inlet salmon fisheries continues.

The State of Alaska has filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeal decision that would require some of Alaska’s salmon fisheries to conform to federal management.

The state says this is the wrong move.

Alaska senators take input, share thoughts on fixing Obamacare

Alaska’s senators know the Affordable Care Act has not lived up to its name in the state, but they aren’t willing to toss the baby out with the bathwater just yet.

Over the last week, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan addressed lawmakers and business leaders about the controversial healthcare provision, taking a softer tone of “repair” rather than the hardline call of “repeal” some of their Republican fellows take.

Cook Inlet meeting to kick off with new faces, old grudges

The Alaska Board of Fisheries has a full plate for its triennial Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting beginning Feb. 23 and running through March 3 in Anchorage.

The board will look quite different with three new members since the last meeting and so does the fishery after three years of restriction, tight markets, lawsuits, and accusations of disregarding the best science that revolve around the board decisions at its last Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2014.

Bill to legalize hemp gains momentum

Senate Bill 6 which would legalize industrial hemp in Alaska, seems to have support as it passes through subcommittees, but lawmakers still need to iron out some particulars with how the potential industry will pay for itself.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Feb. 20, Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Wasilla, explained that her bill takes up an issue brought to the Legislature by former Sen. Johnny Ellis, a Democrat who introduced a bill to legalize hemp last session.

Anchorage official tapped to head marijuana office, board

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office and the Marijuana Control Board have a new director with a reputation that is softer than her predecessors but still developing.

Gov. Bill Walker appointed Muncipality of Anchorage planning official Erika McConnell as the new AMCO director on Feb. 21. Former director Cynthia Franklin resigned late last year, leaving Sara Chambers to fill the position in the interim.

McConnell will start her new job March 20.

Marijuana Control Board rules on CBD oils

Regulators ruled on Alaska's CBD seizures on Feb. 17, maintaining that the products are indeed marijuana, not hemp, and therefore under control of the Marijuana Control Board. The seized CBD products will not be destroyed, but rather the board will retain them until a hemp legalization bill moves through the Legislature. The owners of the shops from which they were seized will not be disciplined. 

Young to co-chair Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Republicans and Democrats now have cannabis as a bipartisan tie that binds.

On Feb. 16, a group of U.S. House representatives from several Western states announced the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The group is spearheaded by two Republicans and two Democrats: Alaska Rep. Don Young, California’s Dana Rohrabacher, Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, and Jared Polis of Colorado.

“People are suffering,” Rohrabacher said. “The law is wrong. We have a bipartisan caucus, and we’re going to change it.”

Prices, lawsuit over cod allocation keep Adak plant closed

For the second year running, Adak fishermen aren’t going after the pollock quota they’ve spent more than a decade trying to fish, claiming to need a more stable cod supply that’s now the subject of a lawsuit before they can make processing financially viable.

The easing of some fishing restrictions revolving around Stellar sea lion protections in 2015 allowed the Aleut Corp., one of 12 Alaska Native regional corporations, to begin harvesting its pollock allocation of 15,500 metric tons.

Inaction, CBD raids and Sessions fuel suspicions within cannabis industry

Former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as U.S. Attorney General contributes to, or coincides with, reenergized fears that national, state, and local authorities are slowing Alaska’s cannabis industry growth and could even halt it in its tracks.

Several regulators and industry members have expressed a sharp concern that the Gov. Bill Walker administration has held up the process through the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, an executive branch function under the Alaska Department of Commerce.

State raids cannabis shops, seizes CBD oil

Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office enforcement seized thousands of dollars worth of imported cannabidiol oils from marijuana retailers on Feb. 9.

The products came from outside Alaska and were not packaged according to Alaska marijuana regulation.

Until they know what it is, officials said, Alaska retailers shouldn’t be selling it.

Seafood groups pick up $5.9M tab for hatchery salmon research

Processors and seven hatcheries have agreed to pony up millions to keep an Alaska Department of Fish and Game research project going.

Pacific Seafood Processors Association and Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association Inc., committed $5.9 million to support the Wild/Hatchery Salmon Management Tools capital project.

The project is intended to fuel management decisions around Alaska’s 29 salmon hatcheries, as well as secure a more marketable reputation for Alaska hatchery stocks.

North Pacific council gets review of Bering Sea pollock program

SEATTLE — After two years of almost ceaseless contention, the North Pacific regulatory waters have cooled down for now.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council oversees all federal fisheries between three and 200 miles off the Alaska coast. One of eight regions, the North Pacific fishery is by far the country’s most profitable, having produced two-thirds of the country’s total seafood value in 2015.

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