Cannabis Industry Update

A marijuana leaf in the vegetative room at Alaska Cannabis Cultivators Monday morning, June 5, 2017. On-site consumption was approved at the Fairbanks City Council meeting in a 4-2 vote Monday, April 22, 2019.

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board denied the on-site consumption application of a Fairbanks cannabis retailer Thursday while meeting in the city. The application is also the first on-site application to be forwarded to the city of Fairbanks for its own recommendation.

The marijuana board, which met at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly chambers, voted 2-2 on the application by The Fairbanks Cut LLC. A tie vote is an automatic “no.”

Board Chairman Mark Springer, of Bethel, and member Nick Miller, of Anchorage, voted in favor of the application. Co-chair Loren Jones, of Juneau, and member Christopher Jaime, of Soldotna, opposed it.

Springer occupies the rural public seat, Miller the industry seat, Jaime the public safety seat and Jones the public health seat.

The Fairbanks Cut is the Fairbanks branch of Dankorage, an Anchorage-based cannabis retailer. The store is located on Bentley Trust Road in a two-story building that also houses a construction company. The cannabis retailer is on the ground floor and the construction company’s office is located on the second floor.

Springer said the vote hinged on a technicality. Alaska’s on-site cannabis consumption rules stipulate the facility must be in a standalone building, must be approved by the local government and must meet security, ventilation, staffing and other standards.

“The big part of the discussion was our perception of the exact definition of a free-standing building. A couple of us thought, ‘Yeah, it’s a free-standing building.’ It’s not part of a strip mall, and in fact, the on-site consumption is going to be out back inside of a fence,” Springer said. “We found ourselves today in the position of trying to interpret another statute that’s not ours, to deal with a licensing issue that is ours.”

The owners of The Fairbanks Cut can meet with Alaska Marijuana Control Office Director Erika McConnell to discuss why the denial took place, they can appeal the decision, or they can take it to district court. Co-owner Craig Aslietti said they plan to appeal.

“We didn’t feel it was the correct decision, nor was it fair. She’s basically the reason we didn’t get our endorsement today, so there’s no reason to meet with her. We already know her position.”

Aslietti said he feels the building meets the definition of a free-standing building and is confident the on-site consumption application will eventually be approved.

“Of course it’s going to cost us thousands of dollars, and it’s going to cost us time,” he said. “The board’s not going to meet again for three months.”

Aslietti said he and his partners have been “on the frontlines from the beginning” and that it’s no surprise that the on-site consumption application has encountered stumbling blocks along the way. 

“It wasn’t a huge surprise today that they pushed back hard on us. We’re the first ones,” Aslietti said. “So we understand, and it’s pretty ridiculous. I’m not going to sugar coat this for you.”

Fairbanks City Clerk Danyielle Snider said City Council will vote July 22 on whether to protest the application or waive a protest, regardless of its status with AMCO. 

“This is the first one whose application was deemed complete ... that I’ve received from the state, within the city limits,” Snider said by phone Thursday afternoon. “We’re still weighing in. We still give our recommendation no matter what.”

Snider sent notices out to four city departments — police, fire, building and finance — to gather information and recommendations. The two she has heard back from so far, police and finance, are recommending the city not protest the application.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.