The organizers of the Cannabis Classic must pay a $2,500 fine and are barred from holding public cannabis events in Alaska for five years, according to the terms of a settlement approved May 1 by the Marijuana Control Board.
The settlement resolves the first fine ever issued by the marijuana regulatory board.
Cory and Kendra Wray sponsor and host blind-tasting, consumer judged cannabis competitions in Alaska, Oregon and Southern California. The pair have held events in Alaska since 2015 but ran afoul of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office last year during the 2018 Cannabis Classic in downtown Anchorage.
According to the settlement agreement, the event allowed competitors to submit marijuana products to be judged by anyone paying the $50 admission price. A limited number of people were invited to consume and judge bud and flower concentrates beforehand, and cannabis samples were provided to registrants 21 and older who passed an open-book test and paid $350.
Competitors submitting edibles were instructed to bring a minimum of 100 single servings of marijuana-infused edible products with approximately 5 mg of THC per serving. The fee for edibles entries was $200 for the first entry and $50 for each additional entry.
AMCO Director Erika McConnell notified the Wrays eight days before the event that the edibles competition would violate Alaska laws prohibiting the public consumption of cannabis. McConnell also informed them that the arrangement with the judges constituted an illegal sale of marijuana by unlicensed persons, according to the agreement. In response to the warning, the Wrays posted a notice on their website that edibles entries should not contain marijuana.
The Wrays were fined $20,000 for selling marijuana without a license after a confidential informant provided AMCO with photographs of people consuming cannabis at the event in a variety of ways. In addition, the board found that the Wrays allowed and encouraged violations of the statute prohibiting public consumption.
The board voted to suspend $15,000 of the fine if the Wrays agreed to abide by Alaska laws at any of their future events, but the Wrays decided to appeal the fine.
The board reached an agreement with the Wrays and approved the decision and order May 1. The agreement stipulates that the Wrays pay $500 for violating the public consumption statute and $2,000 for illegally selling marijuana without a license. The Wrays also agreed to not “organize or sponsor any event in the state of Alaska at which the public is invited or encouraged to participate in consuming marijuana products on public property for five calendar years” from the date of the board’s adoption of the agreement.
For purposes of cannabis consumption, “public” is defined as a place to which the public or a substantial group of people has access. This includes highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement or business, parks, playgrounds, prisons, and hallways, lobbies and other portions of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, according to current board regulations.
The definition of public does not include “an area on the premises of a licensed retail marijuana store designated for onsite consumption,” according to the regulations.
Attempts to reach the Wrays for comment were not successful.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at dchomicz@AlaskaCannabist.com or 907-459-7582.