Reversing course on an earlier policy, the state is considering allowing Outside investment in marijuana businesses.
The Marijuana Control Board is seeking public comment on a set of regulations that would allow limited investment from outside the state in marijuana testing facilities.
The testing facilities are a bottleneck in the state’s industry; all cannabis products bound for the retail market have to pass through a lab first.
There are currently three operating testing facilities in the state: one in Anchorage, one in Wasilla and one in Ketchikan. A fourth is approved for Juneau, pending inspection, according to the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.
One of the problems with getting more testing facilities in the state has always been the high cost of entry. In addition to the license application fee of $2,000, an operating testing facility has to employ a scientific director, who must hold a college degree in chemical or biological sciences and have a number of post-graduate scientific lab experience and conductive a comprehensive array of tests on cannabis products.
The fee to renew a testing facility license is currently $2,000, but a separate proposed regulation would raise the fee to $5,000 for renewals.
When the Marijuana Control Board began regulation cannabis businesses, one of the lynchpin items was that only Alaska residents could invest in or own them. Part of the reasoning was to keep an already-developed cannabis industry in the Lower 48 from swooping in and taking control of the new industry away from Alaskans.
However, with limited capital available because of the state’s small population and lack of access to traditional lending methods due to marijuana’s status as a federally illegal drug, cannabis businesses have struggled to find the money to get off the ground.
In 2015, the board passed a regulation allowing anyone who qualified as an Alaska voter to invest in cannabis businesses.
However, the board tightened that policy later, requiring investors to qualify for a Permanent Fund dividend, a much stricter requirement.
But a new regulation project would open up the opportunity for entrepreneurs applying for cannabis testing facility licenses to seek Outside investment within a number of boundaries. The Marijuana Control Board voted to send the regulations out for public comment at its meeting in Nome Sept. 11-13.
The Alaska Department of Law suggested revising some of the…