The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By LEE REVIS
Editor, Valdez Star 

Herbal Outfitters granted license by marijuana control board

Plans are for the store to open early next month if product is available

 

Valdez Star photo

Derek Morris, manager of the soon-to-open Herbal Outfitters, the first retail store licensed to legally sell marijuana in Valdez.

The first retail cannabis store in Valdez has been granted a license by the state's Marijuana Control Board.

So says Derek Morris, the Colorado man hired by Herbal Outfitters to manage the new business that will be opening soon.

Last week, the state board approved issuing the license to the company, owned by Valdez man Rick Ballow, after the Valdez City Council voted in favor of the license.

It is hoped the retail outlet will be ready for business - with product - sometime next month. Morris is also hiring staff this week.

The store cannot open until it gets a thumbs up by a state inspector, to make sure the building meets the state's stiff security requirements and meets all other regulations.

The building - located at 165 Fairbanks Drive - is under an extensive renovation by Ballow.

The building has housed a number of entities in the past twenty years, including the town's visitor's center an ice cream shop and tanning salon.

Now, the owners are busy painting new counters and displays, and installing upgraded windows and fixtures throughout the building.

Morris says Herbal Outfitters will sell a full line of modern marijuana products including edibles.

The road to receiving a license has been bumpy at best.

A long and hotly contested rezoning within the city limits was needed before potential legal marijuana businesses could apply for the expensive licenses.

In 2014, Alaska voters approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and older with the expectation that it would be regulated like alcohol.

However, the regulations allow municipalities to opt out. The measure was passed by Valdez voters by a ratio of almost two to one in the statewide elections.

via Wikimedia Commons/DEA

This bud's not for you - but legal cannabis will be coming to Valdez in the near future.

A petition sponsored by Carl Hedman has been submitted to the city clerk's office that would effectively repeal the city's zoning regulations that allow for legal cannabis sales and grow operations.

The proposition will be on the May 2017 municipal ballot according to the city clerk's office.

If Valdez voters reversed course in the municipal elections, any commercial marijuana business already in operation under state law would have 90 days to close its doors. State law also bans commercial marijuana operations within 10 miles outside of any city or borough limits where it is illegal.

This has not stopped Herbal Outfitters from moving forward with its plans to open its doors as soon as legal products are available.

Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow recreational sales in 2012, followed two years later by Alaska and Oregon.

 

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