Cannabis

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Marijuana board rejects onsite use

In a surprise move, Alaska’s marijuana control board has abandoned plans for cafe-style regulations that would have allowed marijuana to be consumed in some retail stores.

The 3-2 vote to drop the regulation project follows more than 16 months of research, debate and public testimony that culminated Thursday in a conference room of the State Office Building in Juneau.

“I’m stunned,” said Lacy Wilcox, president of the Southeast chapter of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association.

Brothers share dream for retail cannabis use

By Mark Thiessen

Associated Press

JUNEAU, (AP) — Alaska brothers James and Giono Barrett have a dream: that some of the scores of cruise ship passengers who crowd the streets of the state capital each summer will one day use their shore excursions to kick back and light up a joint in a pot store’s lounge.

The Barretts own Juneau’s first marijuana retail store and want to tap into the $260 million or so that tourists dropped in the small coastal city last year.

Cannabis industry latest to be tangled in Anchorage permitting code

Brian Coyle thought his marijuana lab, AK Green Labs, would open last September.

Nobody told him he needed a “change of use,” or a “nonconforming determination,” or that he would have to solve a spatial Rubik’s cube of parking space on his property — parking spaces over which he said the Municipality of Anchorage is “holding (his building permit) hostage.”

Warren latest to push for cannabis banking

BOSTON (AP) — As marijuana shops sprout in states that have legalized the drug, they face a critical stumbling block — lack of access to the kind of routine banking services other businesses take for granted.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading an effort to make sure vendors working with legal marijuana businesses, from chemists who test marijuana for harmful substances to firms that provide security, don’t have their banking services taken away.

Young cannabis industry will start to mature in 2017

Big changes and big money are on the way for Alaska cannabis in the upcoming year.

Alaska joined the national green rush in 2014, and then spent 2015 hashing out regulations and 2016 scrambling to build out grow operations and retail stores to meet those rules.

In 2017, Alaska’s cannabis entrepreneurs will ramp up into a full-fledged industry, with developed supply chains feeding a ballooning number of retail stores. The industry will finally make the kind of money necessary to bring in tax dollars, and political influence could grow as a result.

Guns, marijuana users, and the feds

Federal courts and the nation’s highest legal official both agree that marijuana will have to shed its status as a Schedule I controlled substance before its users can buy a gun.   

But Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski hinted that talk on the subject isn’t over.

“With the change in administration coming in January further discussions on this issue will have to wait until a new team is installed in the Justice Department,” said Murkowski in a statement to the Journal.

Most state employees can use marijuana off the job

Tera Ollila was smiling when she became one of the first people to legally buy marijuana in Juneau.

When it came time to talk to a reporter, her smile faded.

“Do you have to use my name?” she asked before granting permission.

Ollila, like some of those waiting in line Wednesday and Friday at Rainforest Farms, is a state employee, and while she believed state regulations allowed her to buy marijuana without threatening her job, she wasn’t 100 percent sure.

Covering the cost of cannabis

The State of Alaska will collect its first marijuana taxes this month, but records from the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office show the nascent industry has already paid more than three quarters of a million dollars in fees since the first license requests were filed in 2015.

According to the results of a public records request filed by the Juneau Empire, marijuana retailers, testing labs, manufacturers and growers paid $341,512.50 in fees between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. From July 1 through Nov. 1 this year, they paid another $428,144.

Red Run opens, Kenai now has a pot shop

Back in April, when Roger Boyd was getting Red Run Cannabis Company licensed by the Kenai city government, he told the city Planning and Zoning commission he considered it a statement as much a business. He now considers his statement made.

At Red Run’s opening at noon on Monday, a line stretched to the end of the business’s parking lot. By 1:30, the line remained about the same in length.

Although licensed as both a marijuana cultivator and retail store, the excitement at Red Run Monday was on the retail side.

The Great Cannabis Divide

More Americans than ever have legal access to marijuana, but the cherry glow highlights a gap between the way voters think and what federal lawmakers say and do, according to policy reformers.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said cannabis legislation confirms one of the sore spots that drove the 2016 federal election cycle — the sense of a growing schism between voters and their federal representatives.

Armentano is happy with the statewide results, but only to a point.

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