Four years ago Alaska became the third American state to vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. I worked in Alaskan politics at the time and can tell you that a Yes vote was not guaranteed. I confess to pessimism at the time, I didn’t expect it to pass, and I found the subsequent discussions in the legislature (about how best to regulate marijuana pursuant to the will of the voters) asinine, embarrassing, and unlikely to produce a viable industry that could compete with the black market. I was wrong and for the last three years Alaska has led the nation in a culturally, politically, and economically rational approach to legal weed.
State workers who would like to partake face no consequences for what they do off the job, just like with alcohol-leave it at home. TSA officials in at least one Alaskan airport allow travelers to board with up to an ounce of weed and Alaskan marijuana businesses can coordinate with law enforcement and transportation officials to fly pounds of bud for sale or testing in other parts of the state. Since voter approval in 2014, Alaska’s industry has grown quickly, and is on track to total over $200 million dollars this year as prices are dropping and sales continue to grow. Alaska has hosted the Cannabis Classic twice and the cannabis culture and industry in the state is gaining national prominence.
2018 has been another historic year for the marijuana industry in the Last Frontier. Alaska has taken two radical steps in it’s approach to cannabis, the people who use it, and the businesses that offer it. One is nigh unprecedented anywhere in the country. The other is also groundbreaking for the state and arguably the more important for the future of the $55 billion industry around the country, with implications for other countries with legal pot, like Canada, where US banking and customs rules can effect marijuana industry practices in those countries.
As of right now, because financial institutions generally refuse to deal with cannabis operations, you cannot use a credit card or debit card to buy legal weed in a legally operated dispensary anywhere in the country. Legal cannabis business owners, while technically not…