Fairbanks marijuana club treads carefully forward

(Creative Commons photo by Brett Levin)
(Creative Commons photo by Brett Levin)

Fairbanks first marijuana business has been open for just over a month. “The Higher Calling” – or THC – is one of several so called “clubs” in the state that have arisen since voter’s passage of a marijuana legalization initiative in 2014.

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Clubs like Fairbanks’ “The Higher Calling” do not sell marijuana. The Higher Calling’s co-owner Megan Mooers describes her downtown area business as a private club for cannabis enthusiasts.

“Membership allows you use of the building to bring your own cannabis products to use or smoke,” Mooers said.

Mooers says the club, which offers coffee, snacks and a game room, signed up 130 paying members in its first month of operation.

Mooers’ husband and business partner Marcus Mooers says the club does not allow synthetic marijuana or alcohol on premises, and is being very careful about how the operation is run.

“We recognize that we are the flagship cannabis business for all of the North Star Boroughs,” he said. “While we’re doing a lot to try to make our members happy and to help the community realize that it’s OK for them, it’s legal now, it’s OK to come out and consume and even say that you smoke marijuana or consume marijuana, we also want to make sure that we’re really respectful to the community and the neighborhood.”

Mooers says that includes measures taken in light of the club’s proximity to a day care facility.

“We’ve kept our signage to a minimum; we tailored our hours to sort of be alternate to the daycare there,” he said. “We are, out of respect for the community, trying to look around and see what other options we have to possibly move the club to a different location.”

Marijuana clubs are not currently covered by local or state regulations, which are focused on commercial marijuana cultivation, processing, testing and retail sale. Megan Mooers says they are ready to comply if things change.

“There’s debate on whether there will be licensing for private clubs,” she said. “If so, then we’ll be applying for a license for that.”

Alaska Marijuana Control Board executive Director Cindy Franklin says the panel recognizes the need for public places to consume marijuana, but considers clubs operating in their current unlicensed, unregulated form, illegal, adding that the state board has yet to address the issue.