Utqiaġvik’s first cannabis store nears final approval for openingPosted by On

UTQIAGVIK — Buds Below Zero will be the first marijuana dispensary on Alaska’s North Slope when it opens in Utqiaġvik this fall, according to its owners.

The trio is waiting on a final inspection from the state to ensure their building meets requirements before getting their final permit to legally sell marijuana.

The dispensary was unanimously approved by the North Slope Borough Planning Commission on Aug. 13 and will operate out of a former home that’s been retrofitted to meet state and federal regulations.

The city of Utqiaġvik has banned the sale of edibles. The borough also told the owners in their public hearing they expect the dispensary to close before 10 p.m.

It’s been a multiyear process to get to this point for co-owner and longtime Utqiaġvik resident Robert Kaleak. Alaskans voted to legalize, tax and regulate recreational use of marijuana beginning in 2015.

Kaleak, who moved to Anchorage in 2016, will operate the business remotely with two…

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