ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Update
Use this interactive map to see where legal marijuana is sold around Alaska, as of Jan. 4, 2018.
(App users, to view the interactive map, follow this link).
Data is sourced from Alaska's Marijuana Control Board's active Marijuana License Applications.
As of Jan. 4, 2018, there are 64 retail marijuana stores listed in "active status" for their licenses, across Alaska. Once the businesses are able to operate, they will also move into "effective status."
In Anchorage, there are 27 total retail marijuana stores listed in "active status." Of these retail stores, 15 of these stores are open for business, and 12 are closed.
Other "active status" license types across Alaska:
- 85 standard marijuana cultivation facilities
- 48 limited marijuana cultivation facilities
- 1 marijuana concentrate manufacturing facility
- 9 marijuana product manufacturing facilities
- 4 marijuana testing facilities
Alaska is likely just weeks away from the state’s first legal marijuana sales, according to Cynthia Franklin, the Director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control office.
As of Sept. 28, 2016, there are 33 marijuana businesses listed in “active status” for their licenses. These businesses are some of the closest to operating under the new regulations, but are still subject to credentialing and preliminary inspections, according to the state’s website. Once the businesses are able to operate, they’ll move into “effective status.”
Remedy Shoppe in Skagway may be the first to do that, and could become the first licensed marijuana retailer in the state.
An inspector from Juneau is flying in to complete the last step of the licensing process – an empty shelf inspection, to make sure the shop looks the same as it did on paper to the board. “[The owners of Remedy Shoppe] are very eager to be the first licensed retail on October 4,” Franklin said. “They’ll be ready.”
While the facility could be fully licensed next week, it won’t have any product to sell. That’s because marijuana must be tested before it's legally sold, and there are no testing facilities licensed yet in the state.
Franklin said that Canntest in Anchorage is in the final stages of getting approval, and is scheduled for another inspection by mid-October. AK Green Labs, also in Anchorage, is not far behind.
“What the public needs to understand is this is not only a very short, stressful timeline for us and our board, it’s a stressful timeline for new businesses,” Franklin said. She says many of the hold ups have been from new businesses simply trying to establish the new statewide industry.
“Everybody is trying, but it’s all new,” she said. “It’s not like we have a big line and we’re not getting to them. They’re not calling us.”
One part of the industry that is already operating is the cultivation side. Leif Abel with Greatland Ganja in Kasilof says the facility is busy with its first harvest. “It’s our life’s work,” Abel says, “What we’ve been built for or what we’ve planned for.”
Abel says they are storing their product in an undisclosed location until it can be tested and sold. He says the licensing process hasn’t been terrible, but it has been way less predictable than any other licensing in the state.
“As businesses and as producers of a regulated substance, we are being held to a higher standard than alcohol, even pharmaceuticals,” Abel said. As a result, he said, some cultivators have become discouraged and opted not to join the industry.
While he described the process as "arduous" and "complex," Abel recognizes the board faced many challenges preparing to launch the industry, and he thinks regulators have done a good job in many aspects.
“Hopefully the process will get more realistic in the future,” he said.
While things could start happening very quickly, overall, it's likely going to continue to be a slow process.
“The analogy I like to use is we’re building a house,” Franklin said.
“The board and staff are underneath the house looking at the electricity and plumbing, and in the meantime the public has moved upstairs and is stomping on the floor and trying to turn on the TV…and it just takes time to build a house.”