Bethel City Council May Prohibit Recently Approved Marijuana Stores From Opening

Sep 26, 2019

Bethel City Council will vote on protesting Alaskan Grown Cannabis at the next meeting. Council also discussed the fact that proposed marijuana store, Kusko Kush, is leasing the building for their store from the city.
Credit City of Bethel

The state’s Marijuana Control Board recently approved licenses for two marijuana stores, but it could be that neither one of them will open. 

Mayor Fred Watson is sponsoring a conditional protest of the license for "Alaskan Grown Cannabis," the proposed retail marijuana store on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway next to Q2. The protest is being sponsored because the store does not meet the city’s zoning regulations. If the licensee complies with those rules, the city will withdraw its protest. The city protested a marijuana store licensed to Alaskan Grown Cannabis earlier in the year because the proposed location was deemed unsafe by Acting City Manager Bill Howell.

The state’s Marijuana Control Board approved another store, "Kusko Kush," owned by Essenkay, LLC. Acting City Manager Bo Foley said at Tuesday night's city council meeting that this store also violates city code. 

“Essenkay does not have site control, so we cannot issue a conditional use permit,” Foley said.

The problem is that Essenkay is leasing the land that their proposed marijuana store is on from the city.

“We cannot lease land to a business that is federally illegal,” Foley said.

The city signed the lease earlier this year on April 23. 

“That was just newly leased property from the city. So… did we not know?” asked council member Perry Barr.

Foley said that the city did not know it would be a marijuana store then.

“We were given an intent of what the business would be up front, and that changed midway,” Foley said.

Jared Karr, the owner of the proposed marijuana store, introduced himself at the meeting. 

“Only statement I’ll make, and I’ll disagree with Mr. Foley as far as the city’s notice. As you can see on the screen, it says we applied and got a business license in April,” Karr said.

The first store to apply in Bethel, "AlaskaBUDS," has all its licenses, but has yet to open. "The Green Store" has applied for a conditional use permit, but has yet to obtain a license from the state.