Dollynda Phelps discusses current issues in the cannabis industry with local business owners on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Dollynda Phelps discusses current issues in the cannabis industry with local business owners on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Cannabis industry meeting raises concerns over Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office

Editors note: This story was corrected to show that AMCO regulation 3 AAC 306.720(e) requires 40 days of video retention.

Cannabis cultivators, retailers, consumers squeezed into a small Kenai living room Wednesday night to discuss ongoing problems within the marijuana industry and to come up with solutions to address them.

Amy Jackman, a cannabis business consultant with AK Canna Connection, and Dollynda Phelps, co-owner of Nikiski-based Peace Frog Botanicals, a limited marijuana cultivation company, organized the meet-up to prepare for the upcoming Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office meeting, which will be held in Kenai for the first time.

“It’s so important that we can all come together for this meeting,” Phelps told the crowd on Wednesday. “I think it’s important that we participate, and that everyone who can show up, should show up. I want to draw everyone else’s concerns so everyone can refine their comments and we can be as effective as we possibly can to convey our messages and need.”

Phelps began the discussion with issues she plans to bring up at the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office: the need to trim testing and application review times.

On Aug. 15, amendments were made to a regulation that determines the testing of products not sold to retail. Phelps said the amendment places an unnecessary financial burden on small cultivators.

“I believe the small cultivators are the backbone of the industry,” Phelps said. “This (regulation) will put us out of business.”

Phelps also brought up issues with the amount of time it takes for a license application to be reviewed. Phelps told the group she submitted an application for a license on March 30. Per state statute, the office should take 90 days to issue a license.

“I’m still like number 17 in the queue of under review,” Phelps said. “They haven’t even looked at my application yet.”

Phelps turned over the discussion to the crowd and asked people to list any concerns they might want to bring to public comment at the October meeting.

Among the issues brought up were video footage retention, on-site public consumption and festival permitting.

In Alaska, cannabis businesses must have a certain number of cameras and must retain video footage for 40 days. When AMCO requests footage from proprietors, they have three days to send the footage to the office. Patricia Patterson, owner of High Bush Cannabis, said it took over a week to download 40 days worth of footage.

“If we need to get video to them, by law they have three days,” Patterson said. “I can’t download 40 days (worth of footage) in three days. We are already going to fail. My license will be taken away if they call and need any video.”

Patterson has eight cameras. For standard cultivators, who can have more than 30 cameras, the download time would take much longer.

Phelps and members of the crowd then launched into a discussion about the functionality of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. The crowd seemed to agree that the office wasn’t performing to the best of their ability.

“They say they’re busy, so they need to hire someone,” Phelps said. “They’re not doing their due diligence.”

At times, attendees’ frustration with industry regulators interrupted the discussion.

“I’m treated like a criminal,” a member of the crowd shouted.

“AMCO designed their statutes to make us fail,” another from the group said.

“AMCO needs new leadership,” said someone else. “They are failing on every level.”

Sen. Peter Micciche and Rep. Paul Seaton also attended the meeting. They encouraged the group to bring concerns they have with the industry to their lawmakers.

“I think we seriously need to get a group of legislators together from around the state… We need to get the word to them that we expect (AMCO) to adhere to statute,” Micciche said.

Micciche asserted that there were similar issues within the alcohol industry.

Members of the group expressed an overall lack of confidence of the board, particularly with the office’s director, Erika McConnell.

“I think it’s fair to say the previous director had more of a partnership with the (alcohol and marijuana) industry,” Micciche said. “This director seems to be almost at odds with the industry.”

“They are blatantly out in the open ignoring statutes and regulations and making up their own,” Phelps said.

Patterson told the group about several instances where she received a violation for using an emoji and for posting online about a contest sponsored by Lucky Raven Tobacco.

At the end of the meeting, the group talked about creating a regional representative system, where members of the cannabis industry can attend AMCO meetings to voice the concerns of cannabis businesses across Alaska.

Members of the group spent the rest of the meeting refining their public comment for the 10 a.m. Oct. 15 AMCO meeting at 145 Main Street Loop, in Kenai.

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office will hold a meeting at 145 Main Street Loop in Kenai on Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. The Marijuana Control Board will be meeting at 9 a.m., Oct. 16-17, in Kenai at the same location. To attend telephonically call 1-800-315-6338, access code 69176.

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska House passes budget with roughly $2,275 payments to residents, bill goes to Senate

The bill also includes a roughly $175 million, one-time increase in aid to school districts that would be paid according to a funding formula

The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna riverfront redevelopment planning moves forward

Soldotna City Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Corey Cannon, who plays baseball as part of Soldotna Little League, speaks to the Soldotna City Council during their meeting in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Soldotna Little League receives donation for facility repairs

The city owns the fields, but the Little League leases the land and is responsible for the maintenance of the facilities

Aleutian Airways logo. Photo courtesy of Aleutian Airways
Aleutian airways to halt Homer service during runway project

Service will be suspended beginning April 15

tease
Homer pedestrian pathway project selected for federal funding

The project will create greater nonmotorized transportation access in Homer

Vendors speak to attendees of the Kenai Peninsula Job and Career Fair in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Job Fair draws employers, seekers

The Job Center has options and opportunities to connect people with training, coaching and funding

Vanessa Uei checks in guests during a grand opening for AK Wellness & Tanning in Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
AK Wellness & Tanning holds grand opening for new location

The expanded location is along the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai

The Kenai Senior Center’s dining space is readied for the annual March for Meals fundraiser in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Photo by Ken Aaron, provided by Kenai Senior Center)
March for Meals raises funds to support senior food service

The local event was organized by Kenai Senior Connection and hosted at the Kenai Senior Center

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
An array of solar panels stand in the sunlight at Whistle Hill in Soldotna on Sunday.
Federal grant awarded for Whistle Hill solar project

The annual production of the completed system is estimated to be enough electricity to power 19 homes

Most Read