The state Marijuana Control Board's meeting had a rocky start Thursday morning in Anchorage, with a lengthy executive session, change of board chair and resignation of an office staff member all before the board even heard from the state's first marijuana businesses it was set to approve or deny.
The meeting started with board member Mark Springer calling a closed-to-the-public executive session at 9:30 a.m.
Attendees waited outside the conference room on the first floor of the Atwood Building for roughly 90 minutes and returned when the board finished their discussion. Springer said the board took no action during the session.
The meeting resumed with a vote that changed the board chair.
Board member Brandon Emmett nominated Bruce Schulte, who has acted as chairman during prior meetings.
Peter Mlynarik also asked to be nominated. By a ballot vote of 3-2, Mlynarik was appointed to the chair.
Emmett said both the board chair vote and executive session took him by surprise.
"There was definitely a tension in the dynamic that had built for a little while and it had come to a head today," he said.
After some other business and a break for lunch, John Calder, administrative officer for the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office gave updates on the tracking database and testing facility approvals.
Calder then announced his resignation from the agency, effective July 21.
"My reasons for leaving are complex … one of the major contributing factors … is the behavior of Mr. Schulte. Mr. Schulte, your behavior toward the members of this office –" Calder began, before Mlynarik cut him off, asking him not to air the grievance in a public forum.
Schulte declined to comment on Calder's resignation. Mlynarik and board member Loren Jones also declined comments on the morning's delays and announcement by Calder.
The board will approve or deny Alaska's first-ever commercial marijuana applications at the meeting, which will continue into Friday.