Getting a retail cannabis industry up and running is a big challenge for any state – but both Alaska and Oregon (the two most recent states to legalize recreational use) are doing their best to get things rolling as quickly as possible.
For Alaska, that meant making a few more tweaks to the regulations surrounding the marijuana law – which ended up being a 127 page document which covers everything from cultivation to testing the herbs for potency and even allowing marijuana consumption in retail dispensaries (a first in any state to legalize).
The 5 member Marijuana Control Board submitted the document to the Alaska Department of Law for final approval – which they got for all but two regulations.
The first thing the Department of Law rejected was a national criminal history check – which was deemed an authority that could come from state statute. In order to fix this there is already a plan in the works to bring this issue to legislature for consideration.
The second thing that was rejected is a little more complicated to fix. The regulation proposed would allow growers in rural areas to have access to “alternative means of testing” provided “geographic location and transportation limitations” make it unfeasible to reach an approved testing facility.
Due to how expensive the equipment for testing (of potency and microbials, both mandatory under Alaska’s marijuana laws) there will likely be limited testing facilities – which are almost definitely going to be located among the state’s limited roadway systems.
This would leave growers who are far out of the way with very little option for getting their crops tested. For many things in Alaska less conventional transportation means such as air transportation are used frequently where roads are not available – but that’s not really an option for transporting cannabis.
“This is a problem because intra-state transportation by air remains problematic,” Schulte said, and sending marijuana to testing facilities isn’t condoned by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Getting crops to testing facilities isn’t the only reason that Alaska’s budget and roadway system was potentially going to be an issue for those working in the cannabis industry. Originally, businesses were told they would have to travel to Anchorage to pay their excise taxes because they would only have one drop deposit box.
This lead many to ask, is it okay to send marijuana tax through the mail? The answer to that, surprising to some, is yes. While the USPS did issue a warning about marijuana advertisements, sending cash made from marijuana sales is perfectly legal – good news for any of those working in rural areas and areas far outside of the Anchorage area.
Hopefully this issue will be resolved somehow before long – but other than these couple of snags things are going rather well for the new marijuana industry in Alaska. They should have all regulations in effect by February 21st – and will be accepting license applications by February 24th. From there, licenses should start being awarded in June.