Alaska's Marijuana Control Board ended its historic June meeting Friday afternoon after approving most of the grower licenses on its agenda and voting to open up future discussions about advertising and out-of-state investment.
On Thursday, the state's first-ever commercial marijuana businesses were approved. On Friday, the board picked up where it left off, jumping into cultivation license approvals.
Twenty cultivator licenses remained before the board and those were overwhelmingly approved.
Public attendance was markedly reduced Friday, but the audience still applauded after every single business approval.
Standard marijuana licenses, which are allowed unlimited square footage, were approved first.
The standard-size growers approved were: Alaskan Greenery in Valdez; Dream Green Farms in Anchorage; Rainforest Cannabis Cultivation in Ketchikan; Northern Lights Indoor Gardens LLC in Sitka; Elevated Innovations LLC in Fairbanks; Parallel 64 LLC in Anchorage; Tanana Herb Co. LLC in Fairbanks; Alaskan Bud Brothers Aerogardens LLC in Kasilof; Pakalolo Supply Co. Inc. in Fairbanks.
State approvals are contingent on local government approvals, which includes a 60-day protest period that must run its course or be waived before a business can open its doors.
Tanana Herb Co. had received its local approval the night before, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Cynthia Franklin said, to the cheers of the audience. That makes the company one of the first to have crossed both hurdles.
Tanana Herb Co. owner Leslea Nunley and consultant Sam Hachey said they felt triumphant and relieved after the vote.
They were driving back to Fairbanks Friday afternoon. "Yep, we've got work to do," Nunley said.
"Woohoo!" Hachey yelled, jumping and dancing as they walked away from the state office.
Next up, the board reviewed limited cultivation centers, which are allowed fewer than 500 square feet of cultivation space.
Green Rush Gardens LLC in Sterling; Peace Frog Botanicals LLC in Kenai; Coyote and Toad's Garden LLC in Skagway; Permafrost Distributors in Nikiski; and Talisman Farms in Homer were all limited cultivator centers approved Friday.
Two of the growers – The Naked Herbalist and Green Degree – were tabled due to pending action from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Should a boroughwide commercial ban fail in a public vote in October, the licenses will come back before the board.
Stoney Creek Growers in Seward was also tabled until a later meeting because its business plan wasn't detailed enough for board approval and no representatives were present to answer questions.
None of the applications were rejected outright.
As the afternoon came to a close, the board voted to open discussions about some of their rules – including advertising, whether to allow investment from non-Alaska residents, video surveillance and testing requirements. Board members will write up their proposed draft rules for discussion next month.
At the end of the day, each board member thanked the state control office staff for their work.
"Alaska has officially pounded another nail of 80 years of prohibition in the United States," board member Brandon Emmett said as the audience cheered.
After the meeting, board chairman Peter Mlynarik compared the completion of the first wave of applications to the first laps of a 10,000K race.
"It's been a process, so I don't look at this as the giant hurdle because there's still so much more to do," Mlynarik said.
The board will meet again July 7, when it will review any draft rule changes and the next wave of cultivation and testing licenses. Applications for the first marijuana retail stores will be heard in early September.