It’s been a daunting year for those in Alaska who have been trying tirelessly to set up regulations, inspect facilities and approve licenses for those who will be making up the start of Alaska’s legal cannabis industry. This week, the very first retail license was approved for a dispensary called The Remedy Shoppe, located in Skagway and owned by a woman named Tara Bass. Unfortunately, even though she now has the license up on the wall, she is still not ready to open up shop because there is no product available.
“I can’t believe that it’s legal, to be given that piece of paper to sell marijuana legally, I think even the inspector was like ‘wow’,” said Bass in a phone interview with KTUU Tuesday afternoon.
One of the biggest problems that cultivators, wholesalers and dispensary owners are going to come across in the state of Alaska currently has a lack of licensed testing facilities. As it stands now, there are only two testing facilities for the entire state – and both are located in Anchorage and neither one is currently open or finished with the licensing process. CannTest will likely be the first to be open in mid-to-late October – but even then testing the first batch will take up to 72 hours so it would be weeks (at least) before enough of the currently harvested cannabis is tested and ready for retail shelves.
Tara Bass is still extremely happy about having her licensing finally approved – her shop is set up in a historic building she purchased from her parents. It currently has a fenced-in area, out of public view, which will be a place for people to consume cannabis should they choose to do so while at the dispensary. At the moment, however, she has no idea what to expect when she is finally ready to open for business.
“Maybe we’ll have one person at the door, maybe it will be a long line,” she said adding that she wants to build a business that “fits the community.”
There are still four other dispensaries who are still in the final stages of approval and licensing – however at this rate they will likely be approved before or just as products become available. Hopefully once both labs are ready, they will be able to get through all the cannabis and infused products that will have piled up and keep up with the regular demand – but the state may find themselves in need of additional lab facilities in the future.
Overall, it’s a relatively good start for Alaska – even if things didn’t quite unfold in the order they had expected, as they had originally hoped products would be ready to hit the shelves when this first license was approved. However, with a new industry you are bound to hit snags along the way and at this rate the industry will be entirely up and running by the end of the year at the latest, which is pretty much on schedule.