Cannabis

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.

Why did Marijuana Control Board deny this company a license?

Outsiders aren’t allowed to invest in Alaska’s marijuana industry, but like Lower 48 states, they’ll sure try.

Alaska saw its first open attempt at an Outside company finagling its business structure to get into the Last Frontier’s burgeoning cannabis industry. 

At the most recent Marijuana Control Board meeting on Oct. 28, the board rejected a license application for Wild Flower Holdings LLC, the first time the board has rejected anything since opening the application process in February.

At long last, Alaskans can buy legal marijuana

On Oct. 29, nearly two years after Ballot Measure 2 legalized adult use cannabis in Alaska, the retail store Herbal Outfitters opened in Valdez, a small town a half day’s drive from Anchorage. This marks the first retail store opening.

Fairbanks’ Pakalolo Supply Co. made a ceremonial legal cannabis sale the day before.

Those who braved the chill and drizzle to cluster around the store's entrance said two years was worth the wait.

Anchorage zoning laws force cannabis shops to cluster

Legal cannabis sales are about to happen in Alaska, maybe even within the week. Flower and bud and wax and shatter won’t have a wide city network to start, though. The municipal process takes time and has already backfired, as Anchorage residents object to the denseness of pot businesses.

Who can work in a marijuana shop?

A hip new industry is attracting excited workers, but ongoing regulations might block some from the new field.

To work in a licensed cannabis business in the state of Alaska, employees have to pass a training course for a marijuana handler’s permit. Proposed permit requirements, though, are causing some friction for marijuana industry hopefuls who say the potential rules are “unreasonably impracticable.”

Cannabis testing labs set to open this month

For all the frustrations of the regulatory process, the cannabis supply chain is starting to connect.

Retail operations are cobbling together their final plans after having their state licenses issued, the Anchorage municipality has approved its first retail license and will review more in the coming months, a handful of cultivators have harvested or are getting ready to harvest their first batches of legal product, and security companies are standing by to make deliveries.

Study says legalized marijuana does not affect crime or economics

Proponents and opponents of marijuana legalization have more in common than they think: each side makes predictions that for the most part have not come true.

The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank focusing on free market and limited government analysis, released a study on Sept. 16 analyzing several datasets on crime, employment and drug use in the four states where adult use marijuana has been legalized.

Senate and House Judiciary Committees address hot topics related to marijuana

Welcome to the conversation, legislators.

Senate and House Judiciary Committees called a joint informational meeting at the Downtown Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Sept. 14 to discuss the hottest and longest running topics in the Alaska marijuana industry: namely timeline, board politics, banking, unlicensed sales, and marijuana social clubs.

The Legislature, which has been mostly absent from discussions surrounding recreational legalization, bowed under the weight of the state budget crisis.

Unresolved legal issues, bans still loom for cannabis industry

Courts, cops, lawyers and the Legislature are each holding one piece of the Alaska cannabis puzzle that doesn’t yet fit together.

The industry is partially divided over how to deal with a rash of unlicensed pot shops, which touches on high-profile drug distribution cases the state has pursued since 2015.

Marijuana board issues first retail, manufacturing licenses

Retail stores, cupcakes, caramels, cookies and candies replaced enforcement talks at the Sept. 8 meeting of the Marijuana Control Board.

The meeting marked the first issuance of both manufacturing and retail licenses, moving the industry to the final phases before growers have an outlet for their cannabis. Held up for most of the day by manufacturing license discussions, retail stores breezed through by the end of the meeting.

Marijuana board wants to deschedule marijuana in face of illegal pot shops

Legislative inaction and Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth’s recent opinion on marijuana social clubs are making waves for an industry an optimistic two months away from the first legal sale.

Court rules no guns for medical marijuana cardholders

Alaska’s hunters and concealed carry holders can’t continue to pack iron if they hold a medical marijuana card, according to a recent court decision.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on a Nevada case on Aug. 31 that upholds previous Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives order to gun sellers not to sell firearms to state medical marijuana cardholders.

Alaska banks, credit unions won’t follow Lower 48 counterparts into bud business

Marijuana businesses and the State of Alaska have something in common: banks won’t help them reap the rewards of the Green Rush.

In the same week that Alaska banks and credit unions closed the business accounts of several licensed marijuana business owners, U.S. Bank told the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office it can no longer accept credit card payments for licensing fees.

The bank would not give details on its Alaska-based decision.

AG provides opinion on marijuana social clubs

Alaska’s gray market marijuana social clubs may have just gone up in smoke.

Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth issued an opinion Wednesday that marijuana social clubs — which include Anchorage’s Pot Luck Events and Kenai’s Green Rush Events — are illegal.

Lindemuth said these clubs, which allow fee-paying members to consume marijuana on premises but do not sell marijuana, fall under the definition of public consumption, which is prohibited by statute. 

Walker appoints Nick Miller to MCB

Gov. Bill Walker on Wednesday appointed marijuana industry representative Nick Miller to the Marijuana Control Board.

The appointment fills the seat left vacant by Bruce Schulte, the former chair of the board whom Walker ejected from the board on July 29. Miller, the chair of the Anchorage Cannabis Business Association, is in the process of opening a retail store in Anchorage.

As sales near, cannabis industry still lacks unified voice

More than 300 licenses spread among a landmass the size of Mexico is causing some organizational problems for an industry without income or central leadership.

Common theory in the Alaska cannabis industry says the industry needs more time to get onto the map than its sister states in the Lower 48. Colorado, Washington and Oregon each had an established medical marijuana industry for years prior to full recreational legalization. Medical suppliers only needed to switch gears.

More than 100 names on list to fill marijuana board seat

Gov. Bill Walker has no shortage of names to replace Bruce Schulte on the state’s body of cannabis regulators.

Walker fired Schulte from the Marijuana Control Board on July 29, leading to a conclusion on Schulte’s part of anti-cannabis agenda within the governor’s administration. The board’s applicant listings are now stacked with more than 100 industry members, public officials, average citizens and attorneys with varied ties to commercial cannabis.

KPB marijuana ban petition won't be on October ballot

A citizen initiative seeking to ask voters whether commercial marijuana is legal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outside the cities is a no-go.

The borough clerk’s office finished verifying the signatures Friday and found the petition came up short. The petitioners were 62 signatures shy of the 898 they needed to qualify for the Oct. 4 general election ballot, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

“They submitted 998 signatures,” Blankenship said. “We were only able to validate 836.”

Buds and bugs: cannabis grow inspections underway

KASILOF — On July 28, Kasilof’s Greatland Ganja became the second of 47 approved cultivation facilities in Alaska to pass inspection and receive its full license despite glitchy tracking software and a worry over plant height limits.

The first, Fairbanks’ Pakalolo Supply Co., passed inspection earlier in July.

Schulte uprooted from Marijuana Control Board

Editor's note: this story has been updated from the original version to include additional comments from Gov. Walker's office and other board members.

Gov. Bill Walker has removed Bruce Schulte from the Marijuana Control Board.

Walker’s letter gives little explanation for Schulte’s removal.

“While I have appreciated your willingness to serve on the Marijuana Control Board, I have determined that your continued representation on this board is not in the best interest of Alaska,” stated the letter signed by Walker and dated July 29.

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