The Story of Legal Retail Cannabis in Alaska and the Misguided Idea to Ban It

BALLOTS ARE OPEN, VOTE NO TODAY!

Aloha to all!  First things first. The ballots for the October 3rd election are now open for early voting at both City Hall and North Star Borough building from 8am-5pm Monday through Friday.  From today until the day of the vote, you can stop by either location and get your voting out of the way.  Let’s get an early start on putting to rest these propositions that look to ban safe retail cannabis.  It’s a short ballot so it should take you no longer than 5 minutes to fill it out by VOTING NO on PROPS 1 and A to KEEP CANNABIS LEGAL!

Today we want to dive into the backstory of the cannabis industry in Alaska and how it has massively succeeded since its was legalized in 2014.   Then we will transition into talking about the group who wants it banned.  We believe their campaign is largely based on false facts and misguided ideas with no thought for the livelihood of our state as a whole.  The banning has far greater implications than they want to admit.  Their willingness to ban something they do not understand because it is different can be compared to many dark chapters in human history such as the formation of prolific organized crime with the prohibition of alcohol.  What else do they not understand and where will they stop if they win this vote?  In a more direct manner the loss of Alaska owned and operated businesses along with thousands of jobs and millions of tax dollars is hard to accept when compared to their reasons for wanting retail cannabis banned.  Let’s get motivated to get out an VOTE NO and shut these guys down for good by taking a closer look at it all.


The Journey So Far

It has been close to 3 years since we voted as a state to legalize retail cannabis.  During the year before the 2014 ballot, those that were in support of legalizing banded together then planned and executed a plan by raising funds, campaigning and simply believing in what they were fighting for.  The day of the vote there was a strong feeling in the air that by nightfall Alaska would have legal retail cannabis.  Everyone I spoke to that day seemed to have the same notion.  That strong perception was justified when our state passed the vote with 54% approval and retail cannabis was finally legal.  We finally had the right to build an industry around this natural plant that has so much to offer.  A right we never should have had to fight for in the first place were it not for the lies and propaganda that our own country pumped into the people such as “The War on Drugs” and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign that falsely claimed marijuana is extremely dangerous due to an exaggerated high and its adverse effects on your health.  These lies have taken decades to dissipate and are still firmly believed by many.  Fortunately, there is now enough of us in Alaska that have taken the time to learn the facts and science about what cannabis has to offer and voted to legalize it. Some wanted it legal on a personal level from past recreational or medical use while many more of us saw the entire picture understanding its economic impact (over $2 million in Alaska tax dollars so far), potential for lowering crime rate by allowing police time to pay attention to more important issues in Fairbanks (putting people in jail for a bag of weed is a crime in itself), making it safer through testing and regulation or the relief it gives to those around the world including those with epilepsy, PTSD or recovering addicts.   Either way, we understood, we voted, we won and it was over.  At least we thought it was.

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Following the vote it was time to journey into the unknown.  The state went to work dedicating thousands of man hours to creating the regulations and laws that would govern this new industry.  People of all walks of life around the state began to make plans to dedicate their lives to something completely new with limitless possibilities.  The application, zoning, inspection and regulations that were eventually put into place by the state are difficult to overcome for any person.  To start a business within this industry takes complete dedication and heavy funding.  Still, new businesses began to take shape ranging from those that are implied from the 4 types of licenses which are retail, cultivation, manufacturing (edibles, concentrates, etc) and testing to the supportive business types such as trimming, packaging, transport, etc. down to the accessory stores such as garden supplies and head shops. Thousands of jobs in turn came from these businesses and the numbers are still climbing.   People were researching, learning and mastering techniques and methods to put into place while others were building their infrastructures and stocking up on supplies.  The people of Alaska were once again pioneering and doing things the right way, our own way.  It was very exciting and still is because that’s what being an Alaskan is all about.

 

On October 28, 2016 Pakalolo Supply Company made the first legal retail cannabis sale in Alaska.  Due to the nature of the regulations and application process the industry got off to a slow start.  However, since then it has gone into overdrive.  More and more businesses have grown into full operation status.  There is now a constant and steady supply of cannabis, edibles and concentrates and a matching consumer demand resulting in over 2 million in tax revenue up to this point. These tax dollars will lend to great improvements to our state across the board including infrastructure, schools, etc.  It is also a great stop gap for the declining oil industry and the resulting decline in tax dollars which has resulted in large budget cuts and proposed new taxes in Alaska.  Thanks to the cannabis industry there is a new stream of jobs being created and that stream seems to be getting bigger and bigger.  Many of those who have found jobs, including myself, have seemed to find their calling in an industry built around cannabis.  More and more people are starting to become educated on cannabis and really understand its beneficial nature. Most importantly those who desire to consume cannabis no longer have to meet their black market dealer in a dark parking lot or go on living without it.  Instead they now have the ability to safely choose from and purchase a variety of tested-safe cannabis and cannabis products in a well lit retail store with optional help from knowledgeable budtenders.  No one has to feel the anxiety, worry or guilt for consuming something they love and know is safe.  [AMIA/COMMUNITY OUTREACH/DONATIONS] On the other side of things… Well honestly, there is no other side.  I was going to name some negative effect from legalizing cannabis but as far as I know there hasn’t been one.  No issues with underage kids has arisen,  there has been no mythical overdoses and things seem to be moving smoothly in general with no awful trends in sight.  It would seem that legalizing legal cannabis was the right choice… To most people.

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Click to Watch News Feature above

The Ridiculous but Serious Threat

During the third year of legal retail cannabis a prohibitionist group with the misleading title, Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks lead by Salcha resident Jim Ostlind, gathered the very small amount of signatures required to place a proposition on the October 3rd, 2017 ballot.   If either or both Proposition 1 and Proposition A are passed, legal cannabis will be banned from the North Star Borough and/or City of Fairbanks.  Click the link below to view the ballot.

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Initially Jim Ostlind’s prohibition campaign had the title Drug Free Fairbanks.  A vocal group who refuse to educate themselves on the science of cannabis and still considers it a drug along with meth and heroin.  However, most people do not consider cannabis a drug anymore so he was getting no traction and had to take a different, more misleading stance as Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks. The word “safe” implies that they are trying to make neighborhoods more safe by banning cannabis.  The question is safe from what? Well their main argument is that cannabis cultivation buildings are now popping up in residential neighborhoods like your own and the smell is causing its inhabitants to be unsafe.  Besides the completely false claim that the smell of cannabis is somehow dangerous to your livelihood, there is the fact that there are strict zoning regulations that do not allow cannabis operations to be in residential neighborhoods, near schools, etc.  Up to this point the prohibitionist group has actually been referring to the same single area and group of individuals who are effected by the smell.  The “neighborhood” they are referring to is off of Chena Hot Springs road in what is classified as a General Use zone by the city.   General Use means that the area can be used for anything including farms, livestock, shooting range, etc.  The area is not residential and the people that own houses there should be aware of the zoning placed on their property.  Many people choose this zoning purposely to be able to have the increased freedoms for themselves on their land.  If someone wanted to they could put a landfill, nuclear power plant, strip club or an adult movie theater in that area due to it being a General Use zone.  The guidelines can be seen below or studied more in depth here.

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There is a specific household in this area that is upset that there is a cultivation somewhat near their home and claims that the smell is unbearable because it causes their family migraine headaches. There is no evidence or studies that show that the smell of a growing cannabis plant causes migraines. If that were the case it would be a nightmare owning or working at a cultivation. On top of that, cultivation companies are required to have proper ventilation with the air moving through carbon filters on its way out of the building to specifically damper the smell.  I personally work at a cultivation and I don’t smell cannabis until I walk into the building, and when I smell it I don’t get migraines. Therefore on a personal level it is hard to imagine that the smell is coming out of a building then drifting across a long distance and into these peoples homes to cause them migraines.

For the sake of argument lets say that what they are saying is the truth. Is relieving a headache a good enough reason to shut down an industry of Alaskan owned and operated businesses that people have put their lives into? Keeping our great state autonomous is something Alaska has always strived to accomplish.  Yet this group of prohibitionist are willing to take a successful self-governed Alaskan industry because they got a headache.  Is the smell of cannabis a good enough reason to take away hundreds of peoples jobs?  Is it worth getting rid of the enormous tax revenue that will continue to get larger each month and make Alaska a better place to live? Is it a good enough reason to spread propaganda and false information to succeed in banning it? Apparently to them, it is.  They don’t seem to have regard for anyone else when pushing for this ban except their own small group who is uncomfortable because they are not educated about cannabis.   They could easily take less aggressive approach that will not have such drastic negative effects on our local community and our state as a whole. For example, the borough will accept requests to rezone well developed GU areas into Residential zoning.  They are even waiving the $1000 request fee to encourage such things as can be read in the FNSB Community Planner’s letter to the editor. Clearly that option is not enough for the “Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks”.  What else isn’t good enough for them and what will they come for next? An important question to ask when people attempt to take away your rights for their own selfish reasons.

The Safe Neighborhoods Facebook page is perfect example of what type of campaign Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks is running with a collection posts consisting of false facts and shares of Daily News-Miner letters to the editor that they themselves wrote.  When people comment on these posts in an attempt to show what they are claiming is untrue with full references to regulations and studies they delete those peoples comments.  You will see that there is 40-50 comments on a single post but when you click to read them there is only 1 or 2 from the few who actually agree with them.  They consistently take the time to delete anyone’s comment that oppose them because they have no answer or rebuttal to the truth.  They have failed to get the public to agree with them as was shown when the state voted to legalize and when they failed to get enough signatures last year to get the ban proposition on the ballot (it took them at least twice the amount of time to collect signatures to put this on the Fairbanks ballot as it took us to get signatures for the statewide ballot in 2014).  They have no other option but to lie because the facts don’t support what they claim.

Another one of their arguments is that those under 21 will start using cannabis more because its more readily available with retail shops in operation. It is no different then the way liquor stores have operated for decades.  Additionally, studies from Colorado and Washington show that underage use actually goes down with a legal market.  Your black market dealer isn’t going to ID twice (once at the door and once at the register) like Pakalolo Supply Company and other retail shops.   Having legal cannabis stores inevitably results in black market dealers not having as big of a market for a multitude of reasons causing them to dissipate.  The implications of that would be a drop in crime rate with less underage use. Banning legal cannabis cultivations and stores does not simply erase it from existence.  It will encourage everyone that can no longer legally purchase it to start growing up to 6 plants at home without regulation for zoning and proper ventilation since it will remain legal on the personal level.  A portion of those people will most likely start selling it on the black market to make back some of their money from electricity use.  What Safe Neighborhoods is claiming to do by banning retail cannabis, and what it will actually happen if it is banned, is completely contradictory.  It would be pretty ironic if that General Use Zone/”neighborhood” and area around their house still smelled like cannabis after they got it banned due to an increase in home grows.  If you actually want to keep your neighborhoods safe then vote NO on Propositions 1 and A.

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I could go on forever picking the Safe Neighborhoods argument apart but by now it should be easy to see that the whole basis for their campaign is to misguide and the foundation it rest upon is built on lies.  The worst part is that they seem to know it.  Their actions to hide information and not respond to the facts show that they want to ban it simply because they don’t like it, and because they don’t like it, no one else should be able to either.  It’s a level of immaturity that is reminiscent of the school yard. Regardless of what they claim cannabis cultivations and retail shops are zoned consistently with everything else and cannot go up in residential areas, people under 21 cannot enter cannabis retail stores (additionally studies showing underage use declines) and due to the decline of the oil industry with resulting budget cuts and lay-offs the cannabis industry is something our town and state desperately needs.  More importantly, people should be able to access cannabis in a safe and normalized manner for whatever reason they desire, whether it be recreational or medical.  Safe Neighborhoods is only looking out for their own selfish insecurities while ignoring the rest of the state.  Let make sure we put an end to their campaign for good by winning in a landslide.

Our Response

It is hard to sit by and let the Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks campaign spread false information.  We know that the majority of our state is more educated than to believe what they are offering as fact.  That’s why our goal is as simple as to spread the word to let our voices be heard come October 3rd. The vote is now less than 1 week away so we are campaigning at full power to make as big of an impact as possible.  The funding and support has been a blessing and we are very thankful to everyone who has pitched in.  We are also very thankful to our amazing patrons.   However now is not the time to lay off the gas pedal.  We must remain persistently active until the ballots have close on the evening of October 3rd.  SO ONCE AGAIN, it is important to know that the BALLOTS ARE OPEN NOW! Both the City Hall and the North Star Borough building are open for early voting from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.  All that you need to do is stop by either of the locations with your Alaska ID or drivers license and quickly fill out the ballot and *VOTE NO on Prop 1 or Prop A* (dependent on where you live).  City hall is located at 800 Cushman street and the borough building is at 907 Terminal street.  Please take some time out of your day to swing by and get your vote out of the way.  Let everyone you know that the ballots are now open (tell them to tell their friends!) even if you have to shout it out on social media.  Lets try and put this fire out before it even gets a chance to ignite.  Share this article to help get the word out.  We want everyone to do this for themselves as it will effect our state as a whole on an industry, criminal, political and financial levels. However, we need you to know how much we appreciate it on a much more personal level because it will really have a extremely negative effect on our lives, as well as everyone else involved in the industry, if either of these propositions pass.

1 MILLION MAHALOS!

 

Pakalolo Supply Company and all of the other Cannabis businesses will be out sign waving and kocking on doors up until October 3rd. Right now in the store we are offering large yard signs from Keep Cannabis Legal Fairbanks campaign.  You are more than welcome to come grab signs when we are open 11am-8pm.  They can be used to put in your yard, put up at your place of business or join us waving signs on the corner of Aiport way and Peger rd.  There is a number of different dates we will be out waving with time slots in the morning and late afternoon/early evening.  We have sign up sheets in store if you would like to volunteer for a specific date and time.  There will also be a number of other locations that Keep Cannabis Legal campaigners will be waving at so feel free to join us at any location.  The more people we have out waving signs the more people will realize how important it is to us.   Some aren’t quite aware of the implications while others still aren’t even aware of the vote in general.  We need to get the word out any way we possibly can.  Let friends and family know, come grab some signs and lets go make some noise to…

VOTE NO TODAY ON PROPOSITIONS 1 and A 


Get Out and VOTE NO Party at the Blue Loon

To celebrate the united fight for our rights the industry will be holding the Get Out and VOTE NO Party at the Blue Loon on Saturday September 30th!  Brandon Emmett from the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association and Marijuana Control Board will be speaking about the industry and the upcoming vote.  Additionally the one and only Glenner will be talking and telling some jokes while Alaska Redd will be DJing and heading the music performance with guest appearances from Lee Jones and Shawny Bones.  It is going to be a fun night and we want as many people to be there to celebrate our right to legally cultivate and sell cannabis which will inevitably make our great state of Alaska a better place to live.  All proceeds will be going to the Autism Society of Alaska and you can enter the party with a minimum donation.  Please come out and show your support, have a drink and burn a blunt or 5 with the cannabis industry this weekend! Mahalo, see you there!

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Author: Pakalolo Supply Co.

Alaska's Premier Cannabis Retail Store and Cultivation Center. Read the PakaBlog to stay up to date!

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