Is Alaska reliving Montana’s past?
Will Alaska’s Elite Regulate Cannabis to Death? – Montana’s Medical Marijuana market launched off in 2004. At its peak, 4,900 MMJ providers served at least 30,000 patients. Much like other MMJ states, business was booming.
Unfortunately, in 2011, state legislators and grassroots opposition crippled Montana’s Marijuana industry by pushing through a repeal bill crippling businesses selling medical marijuana. Under the 2011 bill, providers were not permitted to charge rates greater than what was necessary to recoup license application fees. Additionally, doctors were permitted to recommend medical marijuana to no more than three patients apiece.
Unfortunately for Montana residents, the U.S. Supreme Court announced in June 2016 that it will not hear an appeal over the 2011 Montana Marijuana Act. Now, Montana’s medical marijuana industry must begin dismantling what remains of the industry. The limitation on providers to a maximum of three patients is particularly hard. The restriction makes it impossible for providers to supply affordable medical marijuana, pay their employees (and themselves), and run their business.
To add insult to injury, SafeMontana is sponsoring a ballot initiative in the November election that would officially kill medical marijuana access in Montana by making all drugs illegal under federal law applicable to Montana drug laws.
But what does this have to do with Alaska?
Credible accusations have come to light that Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board and officials close to Governor Bill Walker are trying to stagnate Alaska’s new recreational marijuana program through subterfuge and back-room policymaking.
Similar to Montana, Alaska’s governor is accused of establishing unreasonably strict regulations to stop cannabis businesses from growing. Additionally, this past Friday, Board Chair Bruce Schulte was removed from the Marijuana Control Board for not representing “the best interest of Alaska.”
There is a serious risk of Alaska turning into another Montana, where citizens have voted to legalize marijuana, and instead, state legislators are regulating the cannabis industry out of existence within the state.
For a new marijuana market, it is troubling that the administration is struggling with the economic and public policy goals of the people.
Like Montana, anti-cannabis activists are still working to undue the progress already achieved. There is a petition to put a commercial cannabis ban ballot initiative onto the 2016 ballot. If this initiative passed it may undue the original Initiative that legalized Alaskan recreational cannabis.
Alaska’s new recreational marijuana program is in its initial stages and has just begun to issue licenses for testing labs and cultivators. Marijuana retailers are not expected to open until late 2016 or even early 2017.
state and deserves support from its government. Unfortunately, Alaska’s cannabis industry is only being held back by the government and lacks the necessary support.