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Alaska Marijuana News

Bethel panel grants permit for first marijuana business

BETHEL — The owner of a marijuana store in Anchorage cleared the first hurdle in his goal to open the first cannabis shop in a Western Alaska hub.

The Bethel Planning Commission granted ALASKAbuds owner Nick Miller a conditional use permit last week, finding the application met the city’s land use requirements, KYUK-AM reported.

The commission raised concerns about parking and lighting at the store, giving Miller 18 months to comply with additional permit requirements.

Miller has signed a lease for a Bethel building situated near a barber shop and a clinic.

About eight people testified against the business at the commission meeting, citing concerns about how marijuana would affect the area's youth and health.

"Kids go to the barbershop all the time. Our youth are using already at a rate that is detrimental to their health," Kuskokwim Learning Academy teacher Danielle Craven told the commission. "And I'm seeing it in students who are withdrawing, who are going to mental health services, who are struggling. And so I strongly encourage you to consider this decision for our youth."

Mark Springer, the chairman of the Alaska Marijuana Control Board Chairman, reassured the commission that the industry is controlled.

"The cannabis industry in this state, the cultivation, the sale, the testing, is highly regulated by our board," Springer said. "We have a very robust set of regulations. We have a very strong enforcement arm."

Miller still needs final approval from the state Marijuana Control Board. If the business gets approved next month, the Bethel City Council will have 60 days to protest the decision.