State orders Anchorage marijuana social club to 'cease operating'

Published: Apr. 20, 2017 at 6:49 PM AKDT
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After two years of operating in a legal gray-area, downtown Anchorage's only marijuana social club has been ordered to shut its doors.

Pot Luck Events was served a letter from the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) on Wednesday, listing six reasons why this business is operating illegally in the eyes of the state and must cease operations.

In the letter, AMCO director Erika McConnell said state statute currently only allows for cultivators, producers, testers and retailers to be permitted for legal operation. Her complaint against Pot Luck Events alleges violations of five state codes and said because the business operates “outside our regulatory scheme,” Pot Luck Events could “attract unwanted attention from federal authorities.”

Pot Luck Events manager Lee Haywood said their last day of business would be on Thursday, April 20. He said the business will end on a sad note, using the proceeds from their last day to support the family of Pot Luck Events' founder Theresa Collins. Haywood said Collins is not expected to survive much longer in her battle with cancer.

“We're sorry to those folks that want us to stick around, but we just don't want to get the industry in trouble, do not want to get our members in trouble,” said Haywood. “We want to work with the state, we want to work with the city to develop a plan where people can go.”

AMCO director McConnell was not available for an interview Thursday afternoon, but emailed a statement that read:

"As the legal marijuana industry in Alaska continues to develop and mature, the closing of an illegal social club is a positive step. Obviously there is a great deal of interest in social consumption of marijuana, and the Marijuana Control Board is evaluating methods to allow this, within the bounds of Alaska statute and regulation. Businesses such as Pot Luck Events that operate outside of the voter initiative and subsequent adopted regulations are a source of danger to the public health and give support to the black market. AMCO will continue to support the Marijuana Control Board's regulation of the lawful commercial marijuana industry, in keeping with state law and guidance from the US Department of Justice.”

Haywood said Pot Luck Events will continue to watch the regulatory process unfold to potentially reopen.

“We're coming up with a new charter, a new set of rules, a new set of everything. This is a retreat, not a surrender,” Haywood said.

With the business' departure, he warned the city is lacking an open space for tourists to smoke recreational marijuana to prevent issues of cannabis consumption in public, in vehicles and in hotels.