Cannabis

Board hears concerns about crimes targeting cannabis industry

An uptick in burglaries targeting marijuana businesses has officials concerned, but no one seems to be tracking thefts and break-ins at Alaska’s cannabis businesses to get an idea on how safely the cash-only industry is faring.

According to James Hoelscher, the chief enforcement officer at the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, or AMCO, the number of theft-related hits targeting these businesses is on the rise.

Marijuana board carries on with new member after federal shift

The Marijuana Control Board approved more than 22 new business licenses at its Jan. 24-26 meeting in Juneau, and continued to wade through public safety and new federal scrutiny on the state’s legal marijuana commerce.

The board also voted in a new chair after former chair and Soldotna Chief of Police Peter Mlynarik resigned Jan. 4.

Former Vice Chair Mark Springer of Bethel, who has the seat designated for rural Alaska, was voted unanimously as the new chairman, while Brandon Emmett, who holds one of two industry seats, was named vice chair.

Walker names new member to Marijuana Control Board

North Slope Borough Police Chief Travis Welch has been appointed by Gov. Bill Walker to the public safety seat on the Marijuana Control Board.

The position opened up on Jan. 4 when Soldotna Police Chief and board Chairman Peter Mlynarik resigned after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what’s known as the Cole Memo, which was the prior administrations official policy non-enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it for recreational use.

Young tries again with legislative fix to marijuana conflict

Rep. Don Young teamed up with California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee on Jan. 11 to introduce one of the first measures of the year meant to protect states’ legal marijuana laws in the wake of the recent federal shakeup to the industry.

House Resolution 4779 by Young and Lee, dubbed the REFER Act, seeks to provide certainty to financial institutions, patients, entrepreneurs, and other individuals by restricting federal funds regarding marijuana enforcement, he said.

Marijuana board chair explains resignation after change in US policy

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board will still consider license applications at its next meeting but could be one member short after the Jan. 4 resignation of chairman and Soldotna Chief of Police Peter Mlynarik.

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, or AMCO, will continue to process license applications for new cannabis businesses, according to a release from the agency issued Friday morning.

US Attorney: No change to enforcement priorities after Sessions’ decision

Alaska’s U.S. Attorney and state marijuana regulators vowed to continue business as usual after Attorney General Jeff Sessions changed the previous administration’s enforcement position on Jan. 4.

Sessions rescinded the “Cole Memo” written in 2013 that established a federal policy of non-interference in marijuana operations legalized at the state level as long as federal priorities were followed such as keeping drugs out of the hands of minors and protecting against involvement by criminal elements.

Marijuana board issues consumer alert amid testing issues

Testing inconsistencies in marijuana show it may be anyone’s guess just how much THC comes in those edibles and joints.

The information prompted the Marijuana Control Board to hold a quickly-scheduled telephonic meeting Jan. 2 to figure out whether to shut down the industry until testing for THC can be more consistent or to issue a public consumer alert.

The board voted unanimously to put out the public notice, which warns consumers about a dangerous mold and inconsistent THC levels in products.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Onsite consumption decision delayed; voters reject bans

The advocates of allowing onsite cannabis consumption gained some ground this year, but no final decision was made.

After running out of time in its two-day meeting in Anchorage Nov. 14-15, the Marijuana Control Board postponed action on the issue until next April.

In the closing minutes of the meeting at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, board member Loren Jones made a motion to postpone the previously scheduled onsite consumption vote.

Juneau physician secures three licenses for cannabis operation

Marijuana board rejects rule aimed at lease agreements

A measure that would have prohibited marijuana businesses from making agreements with their landlords to pay part of their revenue as rent was rejected by the Marijuana Control Board on Nov. 27 after a surge of public protests.

The board voted 3-2 against the proposed new regulation. Chairman Peter Mlynarik and board member Loren Jones voted to change the law, which would have required landlords to pass criminal background checks and be named on the business license if they accepted profits in exchange for rent.

Marijuana board still grappling with landlord arrangements

When the Marijuana Control Board combed through licenses applications for new cannabis operations at its Anchorage meeting Nov. 14-15, residency and landlord issues continued to trip up applicants.

Only Alaskans can buy into a marijuana operation, per state law. The board has long expressed concerns about hidden ownership interests that could bring non-residents or a black market element into the legal industry.

Onsite use decision delayed; special meeting called after clock runs out

The Marijuana Control Board postponed action until April on whether to legalize onsite consumption facilities after running out of time in its two-day meeting in Anchorage Nov. 14-15.

In the meantime, because the board made it through only 22 of the 50 marijuana operations applications, they agreed to meet back in Anchorage Nov. 28-29 to finish the work. Otherwise, applicants would be left hanging until the Jan. 21 meeting of the board in Juneau.

Marijuana taxes near total for alcohol; testing under scrutiny

So far this year, Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office investigations show more notices of violations were handed out to bars than to marijuana operations by a count of 57 to 44.

Tax revenue from marijuana operations this year through October is $1.5 million, while alcohol tax generated $2.2 million. Budgets for each segment for AMCO in 2017 came to $1.6 million for alcohol and $1.2 million for marijuana.

Onsite consumption tops agenda for marijuana board

Proponents of legalizing public establishments for marijuana consumption are hoping the third time is a charm.

Onsite consumption leads the action agenda for the Nov. 14-15 Alaska Marijuana Control Board meeting in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.

Voters reject return to pot prohibition

Voters on Oct. 3 rejected propositions to ban commercial marijuana operations on the Kenai Peninsula and in Fairbanks where most of the state’s cultivation farms are located.

With 23 of 24 precincts reporting results, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s unofficial election results show an overall majority voting against the prohibition 5,232 to 2,941 or 64 percent against and 36 percent in favor of the ban.

In Fairbanks, voters faced two ballot props that also went down in defeat.

Board approves 27 marijuana licenses where prohibition on Oct. 3 ballot

The Marijuana Control Board renewed 21 cannabis business licenses and approved 25 new businesses at its Nome meeting Sept. 14-15, but concerns were expressed that more than half of these license holders face a shutdown from Oct. 3 municipal elections.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the City of Fairbanks all have upcoming votes to ban retail shops and marijuana grows. Of the 45 licenses approved, 27 are in those jurisdictions.

First Western Alaska marijuana licenses to be taken up in Nome

Though illegal marijuana sales continue to show up as arrests in the police blotters of rural Alaska, not many applicants have stepped up with requests to open legal dispensaries in those towns.

Two Nome businessmen want to change that on Norton Sound. Robin Thomas’ application to the Marijuana Control Board to open Gudlief and James Fejes’ application for Tundra Fire LLC are up for review before the board at its meeting in Nome Sept. 14-15.

Homer City Council to consider marijuana business on the Spit

HOMER — The Homer Spit, once excluded from the commercial cannabis narrative in the city, has been brought back into the conversation.

Medical marijuana amendment has little impact on Alaska

States that have legal medical marijuana programs will remain free of federal law enforcement efforts if an amendment makes it into the final budget as it has for the past three years.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on July 27 approved what is known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used against businesses in states with legal medical marijuana programs. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sits on the committee and supported the amendment.

Marijuana board moves to prohibit common lease arrangement

Should a landlord be allowed a percent of sales in lieu of charging rent to a marijuana business?

That’s a current practice of concern to the Alaska Marijuana Control Office. Such arrangements has the potential to allow a landlord — who is not a licensee — “to exert influence on the operation.”

Addressing the issue was among the 12 agenda actions sent out for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board met in Fairbanks July 12-14.

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