Kenai, Fairbanks vote could cause shortage in Anchorage pot shops
The future of some marijuana businesses will rest in the hands of voters Tuesday. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, voters will weigh whether to ban already existing retail and cultivation facilities.
Most of the products in Anchorage pot shops, like Enlighten Alaska in Spenard, come from those regions. If businesses were shut down there, retailers say it could get hard to supply the demand in Alaska's largest city.
From beverages to buds, most of what you see behind the counter at Enlighten Alaska came from outside of Anchorage.
"One of our absolute, hands down, most popular strain is the Cinderella, people buy that every day and that's straight from Tanana," explained Phil Hornung, one of the company's bud-tenders.
But come Tuesday, that could change.
"I think it would be two steps back for the industry," said Leah Levington, owner of Enlighten Alaska. "For our business, in particular, it just might take a little bit more time to develop more relationships with cultivators that we trust."
If voters approve propositions prohibiting marijuana businesses in the Fairbanks and Kenai areas, it would include existing cultivators.
"It would be pretty devastating for us, we support half a dozen families right now," said Doug Anderson, owner of Odin's Wagon, a cultivation center in Kasilof.
Anderson started working on the facility years ago -- before voters approved marijuana statewide in 2014. Now, hundreds of thousands of dollars later, he's part of the group urging a 'no' vote Tuesday.
"I think we've done a pretty good job with organizing, letting folks know what the issues are, trying to change a few minds along the way," said Anderson, a member of Keep Cannabis Legal, Vote no on 1. "So, I’m pretty positive about it myself."
Former Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly member Blaine Gilman is one of a thousand voters who signed the Proposition 1 ballot initiative.
"Our borough didn't support the legalization of marijuana, and I don't think people's positions on this have really changed," Gilman said in an interview Monday, adding that the ballot initiative isn't about making marijuana illegal.
"It's not to promote an industry to make so much of marijuana available in our community," Gilman said.
Retailers at Enlighten Alaska hope Kenai will keep making it available as part of a community -- the cannabis industry says was hard to create.
"We feel very connected, especially since we uphold kind of a family values premise for our business practice," said Levington.
Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and results could start to come in immediately after.