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.

Marijuana board chair gathers signatures for borough ban

The recently elected chairman of Marijuana Control Board, Peter Mlynarik, is a registered signature gatherer for a Kenai Peninsula Borough petition that would put a commercial cannabis prohibition ballot initiative onto the borough’s 2016 ballot.

Marijuana board revises cultivator limits

The Marijuana Control Board passed a revised regulation for Alaska cannabis cultivation licensees on July 14.

After a regulation approved at the July 8 meeting crossed hairs with instructions from the Alaska Marijuana Control Office, the board changed rules for the cultivators who are currently active but still waiting for a preliminary inspection from AMCO enforcement officers.

Marijuana board calls meeting to revise grow rules

The Marijuana Control Board will need to immediately revise a regulation it passed on July 8, an action that’s become a pattern for a board creating an industry from scratch.

The July 7-8 meeting reviewed public consumption provisions, awarded licenses, and made changes to enforcement officers’ powers. The board will convene an emergency meeting on July 14 to remedy a cultivation regulation flub that would potentially have bankrupted some of the earliest entries to the industry.

Juneau's first marijuana testing lab applies for permit, license

JUNEAU — When drafting their regulations for the growth and sale of marijuana, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board and the Juneau Assembly split the budding industry into four sectors: cultivation, product manufacturing, testing and retail.

Cannabis industry readies for next steps after first licenses approved

The first commercial licenses are issued, growers are gearing up to grow, the Marijuana Control Board is shuffling, and the Alaska marijuana industry is entering a new chapter.

Nearly year after the Marijuana Control Board began its commercial cannabis rollout, on June 9 the board gave the go-ahead to over two dozen marijuana growers looking to stock retail shelves later this fall.

Cannabis labs seek to serve growers off the road system

New products and strategies are being brought to Alaska to make cannabis testing simpler, but it will take more development before it can match other legal cannabis markets.

Before cultivators can sell any of their products to the retail market, they must first send small product samples to licensed testing facilities to screen for potency and contaminants.

Bill allowing rural pot opt-out passes 37-1

After a hiatus, House Bill 75 reappeared on May 16 to sail through conference committee unopposed and passed 37-1 on the final day of legislative session. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, began as an administrative bill to allow the Marijuana Control Board to request fingerprint background checks from the FBI. The bill morphed over time, however, as rural Alaska concerns arose over local control.

The background check provision eventually passed through another bill, leaving HB 75 without the original intent.

Lack of cannabis testing facilities presents bottleneck to sales

The Alaska marijuana industry first business licenses will be issued in June, and the most crucial kind have the lowest number of applications.

Testing facilities — one of the four commercial cannabis licenses created under legalization — present a possible industry bottleneck. All cannabis products sold in Alaska must undergo tests in state-licensed labs.

Board advances in-store pot use

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board has voted unanimously to ask the public to comment on draft regulations allowing recreational marijuana users to enjoy pot products inside retail stores.

The regulations are the first of their kind in the United States and are a rough equivalent to the nation’s first legal pot cafes.

Marijuana Control Board changes policy to speed licensing process

The Marijuana Control Board enacted a policy decision April 27 that will hurry along the licensing process that has been slowed since the state started taking applications Feb. 24.

The board voted 4-1 to allow its Executive Director Cynthia Franklin to declare license applications complete before state and federal fingerprint background checks are completed.

Only Loren Jones opposed the policy decision of the five-member board.

Marijuana board to take up onsite consumption rules

JUNEAU (AP) — Marijuana regulators in Alaska plan to consider rules this week for consuming marijuana products at authorized retail pot stores — a first among states that have legalized the recreational use of pot.

Late last year, the Marijuana Control Board voted to allow people to use marijuana at certain stores that will sell it. But rules surrounding in-store use still need to be ironed out.

No licenses have been issued yet.

Senate approves federal check bill for marijuana licenses

The Senate approved a bill on April 22 that would allow the state to request federal background checks for marijuana license applicants.

The bill’s main focus revises alcohol regulations to streamline enforcement, a measure in review since 2012.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, also changes statutory language to allow the Department of Public Safety to request federal background checks for commercial marijuana license applicants.

Mat-Su Assemblyman proposes marijuana moratorium

The Mat-Su Borough could halt marijuana commercial activity in its unincorporated areas sooner than thought if a proposed moratorium passes the Assembly.

Mat-Su Borough Assembly member Randall Kowalke introduced a temporary moratorium on commercial marijuana on April 19. The Assembly will accept public comment and vote on the moratorium on May 3. Depending on the results of an October borough ballot initiative that would ban commercial marijuana, the moratorium could extend indefinitely.

LeDoux shelves House, Senate bills that would ban smoking statewide

Operators of marijuana clubs had reason to celebrate the unofficial national pot smoking holiday of April 20. A bill that would have banned smoking statewide in workplaces and other enclosed spaces won’t pass this year, and a version of the bill to be introduced in the next legislative session will leave marijuana consumption out.

Both Senate Bill 1 and its House companion, House Bill 328 would have replaced Alaska’s current local control system with a statewide prohibition.

Banking woes easing for some legal pot businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In a once-empty office in Oregon's Department of Revenue headquarters, officials have created a mini-fortress.

Recently hired workers sit behind bulletproof glass at a window inaccessible to the public. Police officers brought out of retirement roam the building with handguns on their hips. Security cameras monitor the hallways.


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