Although voters in the state of Alaska approved recreational cannabis legalization in 2014, it is still missing something that is available in Washington, Colorado and Oregon: retail sales. But the ability of an adult to walk into a store and buy some marijuana legally should be coming by the end of the year, according to authorities there.
Right now some 195 business licenses are moving through the system of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, the office that will oversee the legal marijuana industry in Alaska. Companies can apply for licenses in 4 categories: cultivation, retail, testing and manufacturing.
Approvals likely won’t come until June for cultivation and testing applicants, while manufacturing and retail approvals will probably come in September; this will give cultivators time to grow and harvest the first batch of legal cannabis that will be sold in stores.
Hopefully officials in Alaska will do their best to facilitate the growth of the retail cannabis industry in their state. It would be very easy to overregulate and squash the very promising growth of a new industry that will bring a ton of investment and jobs.
With the U.S. economy struggling, there are few industries that have the growth potential that the cannabis industry does. In a time when the vast majority of jobs being created are low-paying and part-time, retail stores, testing facilities and cultivation centers will need people to meet the demand for legal cannabis. New jobs will generate new economic activity which will benefit many other industries such as tourism, entertainment and transportation.
In the process Alaska becomes another “laboratory of democracy” where marijuana legalization will experience the growing pains that business people and activists in other states will learn from. Another light, showing the way to an end to prohibition.