First AK rec marijuana shop opens to long line; another bid nixed

Alaska’s first recreational marijuana store opened Saturday with dozens waiting in line in the rain, one day after the state rejected a retail license application amid concerns over an out-of-state company’s stake in the business.

Herbal Outfitters opened in Valdez at noon local time Saturday, almost two years after voters in the state gave their OK to legalize recreational marijuana.

Herbal Outfitters owner Rick Ballow is a Valdez native who returned from Arizona for the opportunity to enter Alaska’s cannabis business.

Meanwhile, in what is being described as a first for Alaska’s cannabis industry, the state’s marijuana licensing board on Friday rejected a marijuana retail license application, the Alaska Dispatch News also reported.

The Marijuana Control Board, which approved 21 other marijuana retail business applications, voted unanimously against Wild Flowers Holdings’ bid over concerns about the role of an out-of-state dispensary with the applicant, the newspaper reported.

Alaska’s cannabis regulations mandate that marijuana business licenses holders must be state residents, although businesses may rent from out-of-state landlords or use out-of-state consultants.

The Marijuana Control Board had received an anonymous tip that applicant Wild Flowers Holdings was a “front” for Happiedaze, an Arizona dispensary, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

Wild Flowers’ application listed the owner of Wild Flowers Holdings as Andrea Gribbin. The co-owner of Happiedaze is Gribbin’s niece, Tiffany Young.

“From our perspective, Ms. Gribbin is not the person that’s actually applying here,” Cynthia Franklin, executive director of the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office, said before the Marijuana Control Board.

Franklin said Young had made the initial contacts with her office about the application, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.