Unlawful ‘free samples’ postpone Anchorage’s first pot shop

Marijuana for sale at a dispensary in California. (Photo: Dank Depot via Flickr Creative Commons)
Marijuana for sale at a dispensary in California. (Photo: Dank Depot via Flickr Creative Commons)

In an unexpected move, the Anchorage Assembly has put a stop on what would have been the first retail marijuana business in Alaska’s largest city. At least for now.

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During it’s Tuesday night meeting, the assembly voted on a resolution to delay finalizing inspections for Arctic Herbery, which was within days officially being in business.

The action came after an investigators with the state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office issued a violation against Arctic Herbery’s owner Bryant Thorp for “providing free samples” inside the business’s location.

“The marijuana provided by Thorp was never part of the regulated market as it was not tracked in the marijuana inventory tracking system, was not subject to required testing and was not packaged and labeled as required,” the notice read.

The violation points to a story that aired days earlier on KTUU in which Thorp describes giving marijuana to people 21 and older. 

“When you hand someone a joint or a nug, they kind of get excited about it,” Thorp is quoted as saying in the piece, which was included as an attachment in official Assembly documents.

Assembly Vice Chair Dick Traini introduced the measure, and says it’s within the municipality’s permitting rules to put off final inspections as a way of handling accusations of unlawful behavior.

“We’ve got complete control on this,” Traini said, referring to the mechanism of overseeing the permit process through land-use regulations. “That’s where we have to step up the plate and deal with this however it comes out.”

The state has asked Thorp for a response to the notice of violation, after which time it’ll decide whether his business gets a fine or a more severe penalty. The Assembly will wait for that decision before opting to continue issuing Arctic Herbery a license or attaching more conditions to his permit.

The action pushes back the likely opening of a retail cannabis shop in Alaska’s largest city by several weeks. A small number of growers and retailers have been approved to proceed, but are still awaiting final approval to officially begin doing business.

In other areas of the state, company’s have already started growing, testing, and selling cannabis. Alaska’s first retail shop opened this past Saturday in Valdez.