Mat-Su Borough’s first marijuana retailer opens for business

Published: Mar. 25, 2017 at 10:07 PM AKDT
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The Mat-Su Borough’s first ever recreational marijuana store opened its doors to customers on Saturday afternoon.

Green Jar, located on Blue Lupine Drive just off the Parks Highway, held its grand opening at 2 p.m., but the owners say their first customers began to arrive as early as around noon. By mid-afternoon, the line was running out the door.

“The nerves started to fade away for me as I started seeing people coming into the store,” said Green Jar owner Caleb Saunders. “I think the nervousness was just the unknown.”

Currently Green Jar offers flower and edibles. But like many marijuana stores in Alaska right now, Saunders says keeping his shelves stocked will likely be a challenge in the coming weeks. The store has set daily limits for the amount of marijuana they will sell.

“It took me a long time to find the little bit of product that I do have,” he said.

Saunders said the process of bringing his business to reality has been long and uncertain. His store sits just outside the Wasilla city limits, where the city council last year voted to ban recreational marijuana completely.

City councilman Stu Graham said the main concerns were that recreational marijuana in Wasilla would have caused excess traffic on the city’s already strained roads, as well as the need to hire more police officers.

“I think the main concern was that people just didn’t see the social benefits of having more recreational marijuana available,” Graham said. “The city just decided that the additional costs potentially associated with recreational marijuana weren’t worth the benefits.”

In October, Mat-Su voters rejected a proposition that would have banned recreational marijuana borough-wide. But while the nascent industry has been controversial, Saunders said he’s seen nothing by support from the community.

“It’s been a really long process getting here but we’ve had a lot of support from the other stores and the community,” he said.