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State prepares to approve first manufacturing, retail licenses for pot businesses

By Shannon Ballard 7:09 PM September 6, 2016

It’s a question that gets asked a lot: When will people be able to buy marijuana from a store in Alaska?

The state Marijuana Control Board (MCB) started approving licenses for cultivation and testing facilities back in June. Over the next two days, the board will meet again to continue that process and for the first time start approving licenses for both manufacturing facilities and retail stores as well.

There are nearly 20 retail stores listed for review on the meeting’s agenda.

Right across the street from the Chilkoot Charlie’s in Spenard, Jane Stinson and her children are transforming a former tattoo parlor into what they hope will become one of Anchorage’s first retail marijuana stores called Enlighten Alaska.

“Things are happening and we are getting ready,” Stinson said.

Stinson’s dream is two years in the making and she said what happens at this week’s MCB meeting is crucial.

“Tomorrow we will find out if we will get our license from the state to start the process of selling marijuana products,” Stinson said.

In another part of town, well-known cannabis advocate Kim Kole showed KTVA what she has planned for her own marijuana business, named Raspberry Roots after its location on Raspberry Road. The MCB has already approved Kole’s cultivation license. She hopes the same will be said about her retail application.

While some people complain that the state has taken too long to get Alaska’s commercial cannabis industry up and running, Marijuana Control Office director Cynthia Franklin has continually said that the MCB is right on schedule.

There are currently 23 active marijuana licenses in the state, 24 that are waiting for MCB approval and 240 other business hopefuls that have started the paperwork.

“I would much rather take the time to set up the regulations that we want, that we think would be appropriate for Alaska,” Kole said.

Before any marijuana business can legally start operating in Alaska, it needs a state license and approval from the local government where the business is located. Both Kole and Stinson have already started the process with the Municipality of Anchorage and are optimistic that they will get the green light from the state this week. Both hope to have their stores open by Christmas.

The two-day meeting will be held in Anchorage at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Gorsuch Commons, located at 3700 Sharon Gagnon Lane. The meeting will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Sept. 7 and 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 8. The public call-in number for the meeting is 1-800-315-6338, code 69173#.

KTVA 11′s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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