AMCO drops the hammer on marijuana licensee, revokes handler permit
A marijuana cultivation business owner on Thursday had her permit revoked by the state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, according to an AMCO board member.
The decision came down several hours after a hearing that included state and local investigators and employees who work for the Tudor Road business, AlaskaSense, owned by Smadi Warden.
“This has some pretty big ramifications,” Assembly member Christopher Constant said. “This very well could shut down the whole business.”
AMCO's executive director, Erika McConnell, said Warden's permit was revoked due to concerns about the possible "diversion" of marijuana from legal supplies to the black market. The decision stemmed from a February incident in which muni inspectors found usable marijuana, which was supposed to be destroyed, near a locked dumpster they weren't able to access during a visit to the site -- one employees were subsequently seen opening on video and removing items from.
"Inventory at both businesses has been placed on hold in the board’s inventory tracking system, but Ms. Warden is authorized to care for the marijuana plants in her cultivation facility pending any appeal of the decision," McConnell said. "The board will convene a seizure hearing under 3 AAC 306.830 within 10 days to determine the disposition of the inventory at the two businesses."
According to an AMCO board member Nick Miller, Warden is the sole owner of AlaskaSense.
“She’s the only one who owns the whole thing,” Miller said. “Her license was revoked with no timetable as for how long and no date of when she could get it back.”
According to the AMCO, the marijuana handler’s permit is a vital part of being in the industry.
According to the office’s website:
A marijuana establishment and each licensee, employee, or agent of the marijuana establishment who sells, cultivates, manufactures, tests, or transports marijuana or a marijuana product, or who checks the identification of a consumer or visitor, must obtain a marijuana handler permit from the board before being licensed or beginning employment at a marijuana establishment.
“The business would stop immediately,” Miller said. “If you don’t have the permit and no other owners, there’s no way to go on. You have to have that permit.”
The AMCO board viewed AlaskaSense’s actions to be reckless.
“The objective in this is that the board felt that marijuana was being diverted,” Miller said. “This was in violation to protecting public health and safety and that was huge.”
Constant, of the Anchorage Assembly, said he believes the marijuana industry in Anchorage is still operated “very well.”
“I have found an incredible level of conformity and participation in follow[ing] the rules, security, cleanliness, everything,” Constant said. “It's unusual to find one that isn't following the rules, and that's at least a good sign but we don't want to set a benchmark, you can refuse an inspection and expect to keep going otherwise that becomes that standard operators believe they can operate.”
Chris Klint contributed to this report.
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