After months of work and meeting several time-sensitive deadlines, the Alaska marijuana licensing train jumped the track. A statutory deadline to begin accepting license applications was blown on Feb. 24. The whole derailment is now a bureaucratic tangle.
The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office held up dozens of applications as “incomplete” because the State had no national criminal background records on the applicants. While the FBI background check may be a good idea, there was no statutory requirement.
The national check was removed from regulations by the Department of Law because the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board lacked legislative authority to request them from the FBI.
Now that the legislation (SB165) requiring background checks has passed, the governor must sign it. He has a couple of weeks left to so so.
But still, the statutory obligation to issue a license within 90 days of receiving an application is up in smoke. And no pot purveyor applications have been forwarded to local governments so they could begin their own 60-day review.
At its April 27 meeting, the Marijuana Control Board addressed the problem. Board Chair Bruce Schulte noted their schedule was now “blown” and they need to get it back on track.
By our estimation, the state is two months behind schedule. The board voted 4-1 to direct the director to expedite the qualifying applications and move the background checks to the last step in the application process.
Late summer, about the time the last cruise ship turns its tail on Alaska, is about the earliest Alaskans can expect the first pot applications to make it through approvals.