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

Editor, Valdez Star 

Pot store readies for opening pending state approval

Council poised to approve city's first marijuana retail license


The first retail marijuana Store in Valdez is poised to receive it state license.

The Valdez city council was set to vote on the matter Tuesday during its regularly scheduled meeting.

The state Marijuana Control Board notified the Police Chief Bart Hinkle on Aug. 23 that that it intended to issue the license Herbal Outfitters, which is owned by Rick Ballow - as long as there were no valid objections from the City of Valdez.

The council was expected to approve the licensing.

"If approved by the city council, the city clerk will notify the State of Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office that the City of Valdez expresses no objection to the issuance of this license," the agenda statement from the City Clerk's office to the council stated.

Hinkle wrote a report to council stating he had no objection to granting Herbal Outfitters a license.

"upon initial review of the application, I found no reasonable grounds to contest or denied the application," Hinkel said in his report to council. "but I did have questions pertaining to some areas of the application."

Hinkle said he met up with Ballow and his wife Connie at the building's location three days after receiving notice of the state decision to grant herbal outfitters a license.

Hinkle said a tour of the location - at 165 Fairbanks Drive - answered the questions he had about how the Store will operate. Ballow has been renovating the building to meet the state's stringent requirements.

Hinkle's concerns included a number of matters, such as the plans for the disposal of waist marijuana, locations of the security cameras and "whether they planned on transporting marijuana while armed."

He said the tour of the facility satisfied the legal requirements for it to open for business.

"The tour of herbal outfitters served to confirm my original conclusion: I have no reasonable grounds to contest or deny the submitted application" Hinkle's report said.

State requirements for obtaining a retail marijuana license are stringent - and costly.

Ballow faced opposition to the store's location from nearby businesses during the long rezoning process that the city undertook to regulate what kind of commercial marijuana businesses will be allowed in specific areas within the city limits.

The marijuana license for Herbal Outfitters is on the Marijuana Control Board's Sept. 7 agenda.

So when will Valdez see its first legal marijuana retailer open its doors?

That can depend on a number of factors - especially getting the actual license in hand and legal product availability.

"I'm going to try to get the store open around October 7," Ballow said in a telephonic interview Tuesday.

He said he does not believe the state will actually issue the physical license until legal marijuana products are available.

He also said he hopes to open the store that sells related products such as clothing, pipes and other accouterments a week before actual marijuana and it's related products hit the market.

The store's manager, Derek Morris, is also preparing to hold interviews for "bud tenders" beginning the week of Sept. 12. A classified ad under employment is included in the online edition of the Valdez Star.


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