Cannabis

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.

Board makes call about on-site cannabis consumption

A proposal that would allow on-site consumption of marijuana is now open for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board endorsed a measure opening the way July 14 during its meeting in Fairbanks.

Working from one of three draft proposals, the board looked at a number of restrictions in lengthy debates before approving the on-site consumption measure. The public will be able to weigh in on these and other aspects of the concept:

Marijuana board set for marathon meeting in Fairbanks

Advertising attempts keep tripping up owners of the newly established cannabis shops and resulting in violations, and when the Alaska Marijuana Control Board meets in Fairbanks July 12-14, it will be taking a look at how to streamline ad messages that can be sent to the public.

Owners cannot advertise health benefits of the bud or edibles; they can’t put prices next to products; and they can’t announce freebies. There has still been confusion, though, about what is legal.

Downtown cannabis shop gets green light; moratorium debated

Cannabis shops located in Downtown Anchorage were the subject of more than three hours of debate June 27 at the Anchorage Assembly meeting, this time the pros and cons of permitting what is considered the largest operation in Alaska.

At the end of testimony from about 30 people, the assembly unanimously approved a marijuana license and special land use permit for Great Northern Cannabis Inc., in a vote of 9-0, with Assembly members Suzanne LaFrance and Fred Dyson excused due to illness.

Alaskan delegation pushes parallel cannabis bills

Where will state and federal law collide when it comes to marijuana laws?

That’s the question Sen. Lisa Murkowski put to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein June 13 during a Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting.

Marijuana board will revisit onsite consumption at July meeting

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board will discuss three options for onsite consumption proposed by board members at its next meeting July 11-14 in Fairbanks.

• Scenario 1: You walk into an establishment where it’s okay to smoke marijuana. There are no pool tables, no dart games, no televisions. Just couches or chairs and coffee tables for a social ambiance. “This space is to try marijuana or a marijuana product and then to leave,” according to board member Loren Jones’ proposal.

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.

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