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Marijuana in the Mat-Su: Has the Valley “Gone to Pot”?

There were two new Conditional Use Permits involving marijuana businesses on the agenda of yesterday’s Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission meeting – July 6, 2020. Both were for cultivation facilities – one in Wasilla and one in Talkeetna.

Note: The Planning Commission ought to change its name to the Marijuana Permit Commission because it now deals primarily with marijuana retail and cultivation permits. These pot permits are on the agenda of almost every single commission meeting. This has been the case ever since marijuana was legalized in Alaska in 2015 and the State and MSB sorted out the regulations and permitting schemes.

Apparently, at last night’s meeting, tempers flared and there was a confrontation between a group of pro-pot business people and a group of neighbors who are against one of the two new proposed facilities that spilled out into the parking lot of the Dorothy Jones Swanda MSB Admin building. The Palmer Police were called to sort it out.

Are people getting fed up with Marijuana in the Mat-Su?

People have strong feelings on the issue of marijuana businesses and where they are located in the Mat-Su Valley.

Last year, a group of homeowners hired an attorney to fight a new retail store located just off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway near the bus barn. However, they were not successful.

Here are comments from the Facebook group “Mat-Su Valley News” on last night’s parking lot fight.

How many marijuana businesses are located in the Mat-Su Valley?

The MSB Manager in his “Notes to the Assembly” dated January 13, 2020, included this report from the Sales & Excise Tax Specialist on marijuana tax revenue. (Note that the MSB’s fiscal year goes from July 1st to June 30th.)

At the time of the report, there were 11 active and 5 pending retail marijuana stores for a total of 16. There were 45 active limited cultivation facilities with 22 more on the way, for a total of 67 small cultivation facilities. There were 17 active standard cultivation facilities with 9 on the way for a total of 26 large grow operations. And there were 7 concentrate/manufacturing production facilities.

There are approximately 116 marijuana-related businesses operating all over the Mat-Su Valley.