Andrew Sablon hasn’t had it easy since opening Dejavu Cannabis, a marijuana dispensary in Bells Flats, last November. First there was the harsh winter, which kept people inside. Then he got pneumonia. Then he had a death in the family. And then there was the construction on Rezanof Drive.
But last week, he got some good news. The Kodiak Island Borough legalized the sale of edible marijuana at Thursday’s meeting, bringing the borough in line with the city of Kodiak, which had made the move in March.
“I’m thrilled. This is a super crucial thing, especially during a respiratory pandemic. People don’t want to smoke as much. And a lot of my clientele is older so they don’t want to smoke either,” Sablon said.
“I’d say 90% of people who walk in my shop would ask for edibles. And 60% leave without buying anything, if not more,” Sablon said.
He said he expected to be able to have edibles in stock by Aug. 1.
Two marijuana businesses operate within city limits: High Rise LLC and Wildflower. But Dejavu Cannabis Company is outside. That puts Dejavu at a disadvantage, as Assembly Member Duane Dvorak said.
“Now that the city has dropped its prohibition, you have two regulated businesses inside the city that are selling edibles,” he said. “But the one business out in Bells Flats, they can’t compete on edibles because the borough still has a prohibition.”
He introduced an ordinance that would legalize edibles in the borough, and several citizens called in to the meeting voicing support for the measure.
But not everyone was on board. Like when the city passed its ordinance, there was concern about what effect this would have on kids.
“My biggest problem is the candies and the fear of it showing up in the school … To young children it’s a poison and to me it’s not worth the risk,” Assembly Member Scott Arndt said.
There was also concern that the environment around Kodiak, at schools and among adults, had changed with the legalization of pot.
“We haven’t looked at any data or information in the borough since the borough and city legalized it. We haven’t looked at any data since the city legalized edibles, and that really concerns me,” Assembly Member Rebecca Skinner said.
“I think there have been impacts … I understand there’s been a disparate impact on the one business not in city limits but I can’t just vote yes because, one, we already legalized non-edibles, or, two, the city approved this so now the borough has to do it. ”
Borough Mayor Bill Roberts ended up breaking a tie vote, with Dvorak, Andy Schroeder and Dennis Symmons in favor of legalization and Arndt, Skinner and Julie Kavanaugh against.
“If you vote no tonight, you don’t take edible marijuana out of the home because two out of three shops in Kodiak sell them,” Roberts said. “I have yet to talk to anyone except members of this assembly who’ve said no, they don’t agree with it.”
Recreational marijuana use in Alaska was legalized in November 2014, when Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2 allowing the Marijuana Control Board to regulate the industry.
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the new regulations went into effect in February 2016, allowing adults age 21 and older to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana or cannabis products.
Alaska’s first retail marijuana store opened in October 2016 in Valdez. Kodiak’s first pot shop, High Rise LLC, opened in June 2019, followed by Dejavu Cannabis Co. in December and Wildflower later that same month. The island also has a cannabis cultivation facility called Bells Flats Botanicals.
According to the department, in Alaska edibles can have no more than 5 milligrams of THC per serving, and units with multiple servings must not exceed more than 10 single serve units.