Applications for marijuana business establishments filed

Facilities would be subjected to the same city taxes as other businesses

A screenshot of Melina Meyer’s public notice of application for a “Standard Cultivation Facility” marijuana establishment license, doing business as MORPAC, which is in the initiated phase of the process with the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. Screenshot taken by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Applications filed by Cordova resident Melina Meyer with the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office seek to establish a marijuana cultivation facility and separate retail marijuana business in town.

When asked about the potential retail business and cultivation facility following the Sept. 6 city council meeting, Meyer said the process moves slowly, and she didn’t expect to be doing anything with her businesses until possibly the end of November.

In the Cordova Online Bulletin Board, a public forum on Facebook for local residents, Meyer wrote that she’d started the process for a retail and cultivation license.

“I do have an attorney I’m working with to make sure everything is set up and filed correctly. I know it can be a controversial topic, but I’m glad to see people talking about it and sending me positive messages. Thank you,” Meyer replied in the forum Sept. 9.

Meyer agreed to an email interview with The Cordova Times, but did not further respond to questions, emails or a phone call prior to press deadline.

City Manager Alan Lanning said it is yet to be determined how the city would monitor marijuana retail stores or marijuana cultivation facilities locally, assuming that the state agency approves the plans.

“The businesses will be subject to all taxes other businesses in town are subject to. There are no additional municipal marijuana taxes in place right now,” Lanning said.

Deciding how to tax marijuana businesses in Cordova – and how much to tax these types of merchants, is a city council decision, he said, which would have to be made by ordinance.

“It would have to go before council for approval,” he said.

City officials have considered that marijuana-related businesses have the potential to be an additional revenue stream for the city, and could possibly aid an already tight city budget.

“It has been considered, but the impact on the budget is unknown. (There’s) nothing definitive at this time,” Lanning said.

This screenshot shows Melina Meyer’s public notice of application for a “Retail Marijuana Store” marijuana establishment license, doing business as THE NEW COMPANY STORE, which is in the initiated phase of the process with the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. Screenshot taken by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Alaska became the third state to legalize the use of marijuana by people at least 21 years of age in a ballot initiative on Nov. 4, 2014.  The issue was previously approved in Colorado and Washington.

The Marijuana Control Board, created by the Alaska legislature in May 2015, adopted regulations governing commercial marijuana establishments and was assigned the job of regulating the newly formed industry.

Regulations adopted by the Marijuana Control Board became effective on Feb. 21, 2016.

The Marijuana Control Board will continue to follow the intent of the voter’s initiative and the more recently adopted statutes for the development of Alaska’s new commercial marijuana industry, according to AMCO.

But Cordova has yet to establish any local codes or laws regarding marijuana-related businesses in town.

“Marijuana businesses were temporarily prohibited by ordinance until Jan. 1,” Lanning said. “Marijuana establishments are not prohibited (currently) in the city. The planning commission and city council may be reviewing an upcoming ordinance concerning marijuana establishments in the coming months.”

“This industry is largely regulated by the state. If the current applicant makes it far enough in the permitting process, eventually the city council will have the right to protest the application, similar to liquor licenses,” he said.

After an application for a marijuana license is initialed online, a number of protocols must be followed before the application reaches review by AMCO.

After the application is deemed complete by AMCO’s director and payment has been made, the application is be submitted to local government, which has 60 days to protest the application, or waive its right to protest, according to AMCO. Within 90 days after an application is completed, it will be considered at the next regularly scheduled Marijuana Control Board meeting.

People who wished to object to the applications were given 30 days, through Sept. 15, to submit written comments to city government, Meyer and AMCO.

More information is online at www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/amco/MarijuanaFAQs.aspx#.

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She’s been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She’s lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.