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Bethel's First Cannabis Shop Is Closer To Opening - If It Gets Its Paperwork Done

Anna Rose MacArthur

Anchorage’s recreational marijuana shop, ALASKAbuds, is inching closer to its first expansion in Bethel. On January 10, ALASKAbuds owner Nick Miller will go before Bethel’s planning commission, which will decide whether or not to approve the store’s conditional use permit. 

It took a year before ALASKAbuds could sign a lease for a store in Bethel. Miller is the owner, and he’s already shipped all the furniture he needs to open up the shop.

"I do have to find someone to actually put them together, but we shipped everything on the last barge. I’m anticipating we’ll be open before the river opens up again," Miller said. 

The shop would sit in a brown building between Stan’s Barber Shop and Bethel Family Clinic in central Bethel on Third Avenue. His landlord is John Nicholson, who owns the nearby Nicholson’s Auto, but Miller needs to wrap up some final paperwork before he can open the doors. One item is a conditional use permit from Bethel’s planning commission, and the other is a license from the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. Miller sits on that board as an industry representative, along with Bethel resident Mark Springer, who represents rural communities.

"I’m holding out hope that I’ll make the February Marijuana Control Board meeting, and if I do we will open in March. And if we don’t, I’ll just have to figure out how many applications are in front of me and I’ll have to make the next meeting," Miller said. 

Miller says that his business will bring eight local jobs at first.

"One will be a manager, one would be for inventory control, and the rest would be sales," Miller said. 

Miller says that they are already accepting applications through their website. 

"They just have to be very outgoing and like talking to people. A lot of the folks coming in have consumed marijuana for many years. Many have consumed it in the early days and stopped, and now that it’s become legal they want to try it again," Miller said. 

Future employees will have to educate those customers on the many different strains of cannabis, which Miller says the number is close to 1,000. However, if Bethel residents want to learn about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, Miller says that they will have to consult other sources. Recreational marijuana stores in Alaska are banned from explaining any kind of medicinal benefits to customers.