Alaska is a state that does things at its own pace. It didn’t even join the union until 1959. And it took it almost two years after legalizing the recreational use of cannabis to actually have a legal sale. But don’t blame Alaska; you’d probably be slow too if you only had two hours of sunlight per day.
The bragging rights of first store to legally sell cannabis in the state goes to Herbal Outfitters in the town of Valdez, as reported by Alaska Journal. They opened their doors on Saturday, but a single ceremonial sale to commemorate the event took place at the Pakalolo Supply Co. in Fairbanks the evening before.
The historic distinction falling on Herbal Outfitters is pure luck, according to general manager Derek Morris. “We never anticipated that we’d be the first legal sale,” he said. “That’s still a little bit of a shock to us.” Pot purveyors in the state have had to contend with banking restrictions, municipal and borough bans, political arguments, and zoning regulations, and it seems Morris and his gang were just the first ones to jump through all the hoops.
If it had been planned out, state regulators probably would have chosen a more convenient spot for the state’s first legit pot shop. Valdez is about 300 miles from the state’s largest city Anchorage and 360 miles from the other major metro area, Fairbanks. Valdez itself sports a population of roughly 4,000 residents. The city has one other claim to fame, or infamy: it was the site of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.
Alaskan cannabis entrepreneurs have had a rough go of it over the last two years. Anchorage Police saw fit to set up an undercover sting operation to bust vocal marijuana activist Charlo Greene for her Alaska Cannabis Club and then threaten this woman with 54 years in prison for doing the same thing Herbal Outfitters is doing only a month later.
The market still has to figure itself out in the northernmost state. Outfitters set its price at $420 (get it?) an ounce, but Alaska Journal says that’s about $100 more than what you’d pay for similar product on the area’s black market. It’s also considerably more than where the Coloradan market started out at the dawn of its legalization. In 2014, an ounce went for $323 an ounce in the Denver area and a little higher in the boonies, but those were nearly halved two years later.
Concentrates are still not available on the state’s white market. Herbal Outfitters has plans to sell extracts and edibles, but for now those products are still tied up in permitting red tape, so flowers is all you’re going to get for now.
Photo via Flickr user juanlu_el_9