Alaska regulators still backed up on recreational cannabis applications

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It’s a recurring theme: Alaska is struggling with a backlog of marijuana license applications.

About 470 applications are in various stages of the process, according to a May 8 spreadsheet posted on the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office’s website.

The spreadsheet lists 47 businesses that have been granted licenses, pending inspections.

Alaska, which began adult-use cannabis sales in late 2016, currently has 205 businesses in operation, according to the state.

The state faced a similar logjam last year when 385 businesses were in various stages of the application process. That backlog was attributed to an understaffed state regulatory agency and bureaucracy at the local level.

“There is seemingly a never-ending wave of potential licensees,” Brandon Emmett of the Alaska Marijuana Control Board told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

He said employee burnout is a factor in the backlog. He believes increasing application fees could enable the office to hire more employees to handle the applications.