Anchorage zoning laws force cannabis shops to cluster

by DJ Summers in Alaska Journal of Commerce

Legal cannabis sales are about to happen in Alaska, maybe even within the week. Flower and bud and wax and shatter won’t have a wide city network to start, though. The municipal process takes time and has already backfired, as Anchorage residents object to the denseness of pot businesses.

Greatland Ganja, a Kasilof cultivator, dropped off samples at recently approved testing lab CannTest LLC on Oct. 24. Several Anchorage retail shops are near operational — one, Arctic Herbery, has already started handing out samples — and will have a flow of tested product as soon as CannTest clears it.

Valkyrie Security and Asset Protection is trucking a bundle of samples to CannTest from Fairbanks later in the week, and Valdez retailers say they could open by Saturday, Oct. 29.

The marijuana industry, unable to access banking and without any current sales to replenish the thousands in rent, construction, legal and license fees they’ve paid in the last year, views municipal rules as a needless constraint.

Besides considering it unnecessary, industry stakeholders think the Municipality of Anchorage rules are indirectly leading to public backlash against marijuana businesses by concentrating them into green-friendly clusters.

Erika McConnell, the Anchorage municipality’s marijuana land use planner, said industry members are reading the cause and effect of zoning requirements accurately.

“There’s a limited number of zoning districts in which these businesses can be established,” she said. “You kind of end up having certain areas of town where you find spaces.”

Jana Weltzin, a cannabis business attorney, describes the municipal land use requirements as “overly burdensome,” and said they cost both city staff and businesses time and money.

“A cannabis production company would make better business sense in other parts of the state, unfortunately,” wrote Weltzin.

Continue reading: