The legal marijuana industry has certainly come a long way since its inception, but the rules and regulations surrounding the sale and distribution of the plant remain fairly stringent. The same goes for cultivation experts, who are also required to go through an extensive licensing process, and meet a bevy of strict requirements once officially certified.
Alaska, which legalized recreational marijuana back in 2014, and officially began selling it in 2016, also takes a no-nonsense approach when it comes to their commercial cannabis businesses. That notion was on full display Thursday, as a licensed cannabis grower lost their license because of a few weed scraps found near a dumpster.
Cannabis Grower Loses License
Per the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska regulators have officially stripped Smadar Warden, the sole proprietor of AlaskaSense LLC, of her cultivation license. The business also has a retail portion, Cannabaska.
The company came under fire back in late January after Keith Collins, a city code enforcer, visited the property. After he saw scraps of a cannabis plant on the floor next to a dumpster, he told Warden that this was unacceptable under state guidelines.
According to the administrative hearing report, Collins told Warden that all excess cannabis plants must be ground up and disposed of to prevent further use.
However, what happened next was the true nail in the coffin.
On February 16th, police and two state investigators stopped by the business. According to the Daily News report, the investigators attempted to search the dumpster. The dumpster was locked with a padlock, but there were, again, scraps of cannabis surrounding it. One of the investigators, James Hoelscher, wrote a memo to the Marijuana Control Board. He claimed that the scraps were still usable, once again violating regulations.
The inspectors then asked to open the dumpster. The key an employee brought out did not work on the lock. After requesting to cut the lock, Warden refused.
About an hour later, Evan Neal, the chief operating officer of the business, called the inspectors to return. Less than two minutes after, he called for an emergency garbage pickup.
According to Collins own report, when the inspectors arrived, they found a mostly empty dumpster, sans some excess cannabis leaves and plant remnants.
Late Thursday, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted to revoke both Warden’s cultivation and retail licenses.
The board was concerned about the possibility of diversion. Or, in other words, legal cannabis ending up where it shouldn’t.
“Usable, smokable buds of marijuana on the ground, in front of a dumpster, behind a cultivation facility … it’s diversion, plain and simple,” Springer said.
Despite the court’s decision, Evan Neal still maintain’s the company’s innocence.
“We really didn’t have anything to hide,” Neal contended.
Fair or not, the board is clearly on the stringent side when it comes to the newly-legal industry. Back in December, they revoked the license of the Frozen Budz dispensary in Fairbanks. In that case, inspectors found mold in edibles. Hopefully, this will be the last case of incompetence in an industry where owners must be on their toes.