The last frontier state – Alaska is the third state in the US to legalize cannabis adult use consumption with recreational cannabis being legal in Alaska since February 2015 and sales since 2016. Cannabis for medical use became legal in Alaska in 1998, second to California to possess and use cannabis.
Alaska has the greatest number of cannabis dispensaries per capita in the USA. Adults over 21 years can possess and consume cannabis by strictly adhering to state and federal laws. In this blog, we have brought you how to open a cannabis dispensary in Alaska.
The cannabis market in Alaska
Since the first dispensary opened in 2016, legal cannabis sales have increased quite steadily. The market should generate more than $130 million in sales this year (source: https://askgrowers.com/blog/alaska-cannabis-industry-research), according to researchers. With slightly over 736,000 inhabitants as of the 2020 Census, that is noteworthy for one of the least populated states in the nation.
Tourism is a significant factor in this expansion. The first few cannabis-friendly jurisdictions have benefited from an increase in tourists from states where legalization attempts have failed. According to some Alaskan businesses, visitors account for up to 20% of their cannabis sales.
Types of cannabis businesses in Alaska
Alaska has unique cannabis opportunities for those who want to get involved in this business. Opening a dispensary is one of the many options this state offers. Let us look at the types of cannabis business models in the state you can choose from:
- Retail: The sale of cannabis, edibles, CBD oil, and other goods for individual consumption. A few stores also allow customers to consume alcohol there, just like a pub.
- Breeding and cultivating plants that you can sell to distributors or producers.
- Manufacturing your own cannabis products or extracting THC and CBD for use in them.
- Testing products in a lab to ensure their quality, purity, dose, and other factors.
- Distributor: A person or company that transports cannabis products from one place or business to another.
- Hybrid: Combining the use of cannabis products or ingestion with another well-liked pastime, such as drawing, yoga, etc.
Six different marijuana licenses are available in Alaska:
- Marijuana Product Manufacturing Facility
- Marijuana Concentrate Manufacturing Facility
- Retail Marijuana Store
- Standard Cultivation Facility
- Limited Cultivation Facility
- Testing Facility
How to apply for a license:
Alaska state expects applicants to follow all the appropriate laws, compliances, and regulations to the last detail. The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) is a critical place for guidance. In Alaska, licenses are given based on premises.
Applying for a marijuana license in Alaska is a multi-step process.
Step1: Ensure all the required documents are collated
- The first step in applying for a license is ensuring an appropriate location for the outlet
- Submit an operating plan
- Age should be 21 years and a valid photo identification ID (passport, driver’s license, ID from a US state, or an instruction permit)
- Fingerprints of all the people invested in the business
- Proof of notifying the concerned city council about your proposal
- Proof of scheduling of site inspection along with a handler permit
- Proof of registration for paying excise taxes
- Other details about the intellectual property, Standard Operating Procedures, etc.
These are only preliminary and mandatory requirements. The exact set of documents required will depend on the type of license
Once again, you must do your due diligence about the existing prohibitions for cannabis establishments in your municipality.
Step 2: The application and selection process
- Start your retail marijuana license application at AMCO’s marijuana licensing page, which includes links to electronic applications for both marijuana license renewals and new marijuana establishment licenses
- After submitting the initial online application, you will also need to submit further paperwork and give the requisite public notice, which includes contacting your local government
- AMCO will examine your application and all supporting information after the public notice period
- The 60-day waiting period for local government objection will begin once the application is complete, and the application will be reviewed at the following regularly scheduled Marijuana Control Board meeting
- If the board gives its approval, AMCO will inspect the proposed site to make sure it complies with all standards before issuing a license
The application, license, and renewal costs:
Brand-new marijuana business applications cost $1000. Additionally, there is a $48.25 fingerprint cost for each person connected to the application. $5,000 is required for a retail marijuana store’s license and a renewal fee of $7000.
How many licenses can a person have?
Except for testing facilities that are distinct from all other license categories, all other marijuana facilities do not have a restriction on the number of licenses a person can have. This means that a marijuana testing facility with a license is not allowed to have any licensees, employees, or agents with marijuana establishment licenses other than a license for a testing facility.
Who is eligible to buy marijuana and how much can they purchase?
Alaska allows adults 21 and older to buy marijuana from authorized retail establishments. Retail consumers can buy
- Up to 1 ounce of consumable marijuana
- Or up to 7 grams of inhalation marijuana concentrate
- Or up to 5.6 grams of THC
Marijuana store locations and timings:
Local zoning laws must be followed when choosing locations for retail cannabis stores. Additionally, cannabis retail establishments must be situated more than 500 feet from a school, a youth or entertainment center, a structure where regular religious services are held, or a prison.
Retail marijuana businesses can operate in Alaska between 8 a.m. and 5 a.m. Additional limitations on retail marijuana operating hours may be imposed by local authorities.
Retail marijuana businesses must display mandatory notices. These warning placards must be at least 11 inches by 15 inches in size, with wording that is at least half an inch tall and colored in a way that stands out from the background:
- Consumption of marijuana in public is prohibited by law
- Providing marijuana to persons under 21 years is prohibited by law
Funding for cannabis business
The cannabis industry is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and federal banks do not fund these outlets. However, you can approach local banks or credit unions, and state government-approved lenders. Private investors are another option, but Alaska requires such investors to be Alaskan residents. Funding companies like Fundcanna also are favorable for your cannabis retail business.
Cannabis Security Requirements
The cannabis business in Alaska has well-defined security requirements as required by state regulations
- Employee identification tag
- Adequate lighting outside the facility
- Alarms for the facility building
- Security surveillance cameras with backup footage of 40 days for monitoring
- Standard operating procedures for security policies
- Approved grade locking system for the building
Opening a dispensary in Alaska is a serious job. It requires mapping many documents, licenses, regulations, and policies and accommodating frequent updates to state cannabis regulations. All this could tire you out and dampen your spirit for business. You can rely on experts in the industry to make opening a dispensary easier.
Contact our experts at Cure8 to know more.