Money & Business

Amid Shop Raids, Alaska Marijuana Industry Association Forms

By / Jul 13, 2015 (PromesaArtStudio/Flickr)

With pot legalization on the table in Alaska, but business plans and regulatory issues still on the drawing board, a new trade group hopes to usher the state’s cannabis industry through a rocky period.

Remember when reporter Charlo Greene quit her job on live TV—complete with profanity—after reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club, because she is the owner of the medical marijuana club?

The revelation drew a lot of attention to marijuana legalization in the state, and soon after the incident, voters approved a ballot measure, making the drug legal in the state.

But there’s a catch: Users can possess one ounce of marijuana and grow a certain amount, bit growers or holders of marijuana in Alaska cannot sell it at the moment. And that’s led to raids on clubs like Greene’s.

The state says that the legalization of marijuana sales is coming, but probably not until next year. A new trade group, however, is ready to help clear things up when that time comes.

The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, whose launch was announced last week, plans to offer guidance to the industry as it wades through a morass of regulatory issues.

“AMIA seeks to promote a responsible marijuana industry and to provide resources, information, training, and advocacy for business owners, employees, and affiliated businesses,” the group says in its mission statement.

AMIA’s five-member board, formed ahead of regulations expected to come about later this year, says it will create a code of conduct and potentially offer some self-regulatory resources to its members.

Abundant Raids

The newly growing industry needs the help. Raids and similar legal actions have frustrated entrepreneurs, business owners, and potential customers.

Last week, for example, at least six businesses—including Greene’s club—were served cease-and-desist orders by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

In comments to The Guardian, Anchorage Police Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Castro emphasized that it was “very important that people don’t try to jump the gun until the state sets our other rules and protocols for the sale and commercialization of marijuana.”

A Legitimate Voice

At a time when these stories are generating headlines in Alaska, AMIA Board Member Leif Abel emphasizes that the new group could help improve the industry’s legitimacy. It’s a strategy that has worked well for the National Cannabis Industry Association.

“Things that I think are most important about an industry association, number one, I think that it’s good for an industry, especially one that is just being created in a legitimate way I should say, is to have a code of conduct and to self-regulate,” Abel said in comments to KSRM radio.

He added that such an approach “generally sends a message to the general populous and the leaders that we’re being responsible” and that the industry is able to monitor itself.

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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