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Running a retail cannabis business can be taxing if you don’t know what you’re doing. Any small business requires a level of professionalism, but a cannabis business is unique in that the laws of each state, county, and even city differ across the U.S.
Without a consensus, even a seasoned pro in one state will still have to study up on other states, and even once you get the hang of a state’s laws, they can quickly change at any given election. Here’s everything you need to know about operating a compliant cannabis business in Alaska, and the state’s cannabis laws.
The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, reporting to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
You’ll need to fill out the application for either medical or recreational. It can be found online, along with extensive details on 17.38 (the citizen’s 2014 initiative signed into law May 2015 to regulate legal commercial cannabis businesses).
You’ll definitely need a cannabis business corporate structure and retail business plan for the best shot at success.
This depends largely on the city or county. Before breaking down what we know so far in the most populated areas, here are some general state guidelines to adhere to. All licensees must be Alaska residents. Business publication guidelines must be met before the business can be fully licensed. Licensing and application fees must be paid on time and applications filed and renewed on time. Seed-to-sale tracking on the state’s Metrc system is required. You generally don’t qualify for a license with a felony on your record. Here’s a spreadsheet maintained by the state showing additional local laws of which you need to be aware.
The application fee is $1000, and there’s a $5000 fee for a retail cannabis store license, product manufacturer license, or cannabis cultivation license. Limited cultivation (small batch) operations, concentrate manufacturers, and testing manufacturing facilities pay a $1000 additional fee. Each employee in your supply chain will also need a $50 Marijuana Handler’s Card. Certification can only be obtained after completing the proper training certification course listed on the state’s website.
Then there’s a $47 fingerprinting fee per person, a $250 fee per product, and about $1000 in assorted fees to fully pay the government and start your business.
Most licensing fees are one-time only, but your renewal application fee costs $600. If late, a $1000 late charge is added to make a total of $1600.
Cannabis retail business permits are granted through the Alcohol and Marijuana Control office, but the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health manages the medical marijuana registry.
You won’t need to pay any fees to the Division of Public Health unless you have a medical card.
After applying, you’ll need to post a public notification of intent to open a marijuana business at your proposed location for 10 days, as stipulated by 3 AAC 306.025. You’ll also need to publish your intent in a local approved publisher once a week for three weeks. Once this process has been completed, mail in certified copies of your fingerprints, payment, and application paperwork. It will be submitted by AMCO to your local government for protest for 60 days. Finally, 90 days after that time limit is up, the MCB will consider your license at its regularly scheduled meeting. From end to end, you’re looking at nearly six months to complete the licensing process alone.
Owning a location is the first hurdle, so you’re in a great position already. Alaska doesn’t technically give “dispensary” licenses, though. What it issues are cannabis retail and cultivation licenses as described in the fee structure above.
In addition to state regulations, many areas have municipal licensing regulations of which you need to be aware. Anchorage, for example, has AO 2016-16(S) regulating cannabis retail businesses, and there are local event regulations we’ll discuss more below. You’ll also need to pay city taxes. Fairbanks has a limit of 12 stores, so be sure there’s room for your business before preparing a license application.
Boy, do you! In Anchorage, AR 2016-189 lays out the rules of displaying and consuming cannabis in public facilities. AR 2015-130 further discusses the display of cannabis in public places and events.
The location of your cannabis events determines which license you’ll need to pursue. If you’re attending an event like a High Times Cannabis Cup, you’re actually a vendor at that event.
Holding your own offsite events puts you in High Times position where you need to file the proper city and county licenses. Work with the venue to ensure this is completed in a timely manner. If hosting events on site, you’ll need to file local and county permits as required. The same state requirements for security and public display/consumption will apply to events. Both the event holders and venue were recently fined because of public consumption at a cannabis event.
Yes, you can hold more than one license of any type, with the exception of a cannabis testing license. According to 3 AAC 306.610, a licensed testing facility may not have any licensee, employee, or agent who holds anything other than a testing facility license. You can even locate multiple separately licensed businesses (i.e. a cultivation and retail) in the same premises if allowed by local zoning rules.
Reading, understanding, and consistently applying Alaska state cannabis regulations is essential. During the application process, your entire organization will be tested on compliance competency.
Also track everything. Record every interaction. Have every dollar, plant, and product tracked from seed to sale. A solid POS that can automatically interface with the state’s tracking system is only the start of what you’ll need to stay compliant.
Required cannabis business security measures will cost at least $100,000. Video surveillance, security lighting, transportation and waste disposal processes, platforms, and procedures need to be in place from day one.
Cloud video data storage will be a significant cost for startup businesses. Plan ahead for this.
It’s a funny question because you’ll be labeling all product that enters and exits your retail store. There are no specific regulations about packaging on premises, but cannabis must be already sealed before transport.
Yes and no. Overall you can’t sell alcohol or tobacco at cannabis dispensaries or cannabis at smoke shops, liquor shops, etc. There are exceptions, however, like alcohol based tinctures, which are labeled as edibles and sold in dispensaries. Also, terpenes (basically cannabis essential oils) and hemp products have different rules. It’s possible to create cannabis-flavored products that don’t include THC.
You can. So long as you meet the requirements, you can house everything but a testing facility in one building. Each license can be obtained and stacked on each other.
Public cannabis consumption is only allowed in licensed retail businesses. It’s been legal to give cannabis away long before it was legal to sell in retail stores. You can give away up to one ounce of product if you’re feeling generous.
Your store can be open any time between the hours of 9am and midnight, seven days a week.
According to Alaska law “a retail marijuana store may have not more than three signs, visible to the general public from the public right-of way, that identify the retail marijuana store by its business name. A sign may be placed in the retail marijuana store’s window or attached to the outside of the licensed premises. The size of each sign may not exceed 4,800 square inches.”
However, you may not display advertising for any actual product, and advertising laws vary by locality.
Alaska’s system of record for the cannabis industry is Franwell’s Metrc POS platform. Your POS should ultimately report directly to Metrc directly to seamlessly remain compliant.
You’ll need to pay Franwell $40 per month per Metrc license and $0.25 to $0.45 for package and plant tags.