Alaskan voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2014 November ballot; it is now nearly two years later and there is still no exact start date to the program. While officials have prepared for the slow progress, users have been waiting with little details on when it might begin. The slow crawl of the marijuana business licensing process has finally reached a tipping point though, as 33 marijuana businesses are listed as 'active status' awaiting their licenses. One business, Remedy Shoppe located in Skagway, hopes to be the first licensed marijuana business in Alaska on Oct. 4th after their empty shelf inspection. The race to be the first dispensary is attractive, but there will be no product until the marijuana can be tested at a licensed testing facility. The first testing facilities are also well on their way to gaining licenses after inspections in mid October. The only currently operating marijuana businesses are the cultivators who have stashed their product awaiting testing and first sales. Alaskans have waited a long time for this program, but they will hopefully only have to wait a little longer.
An inspector from Juneau is flying in to complete the last step of the licensing process – an empty shelf inspection, to make sure the shop looks the same as it did on paper to the board. “[The owners of Remedy Shoppe] are very eager to be the first licensed retail on October 4,” Franklin said. “They’ll be ready.”
While the facility could be fully licensed next week, it won’t have any product to sell. That’s because marijuana must be tested before it's legally sold, and there are no testing facilities licensed yet in the state.
“The analogy I like to use is we’re building a house,” Franklin said.
“The board and staff are underneath the house looking at the electricity and plumbing, and in the meantime the public has moved upstairs and is stomping on the floor and trying to turn on the TV…and it just takes time to build a house.”