How to start a commercial grow operation in Alaska

In 2014, Alaska voted for the first unified marijuana program in the United States. This means that the state legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in one program. However, there is a distinction between the two, with different licensing periods and qualifications for each marijuana business.

So far, the process for getting a license for a marijuana growing operation does not differ much from any regular shop. Let’s take a look at the specifics of how to open a commercial grow operation in Alaska.

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    Marijuana sales in Alaska began in 2014, and the first sale took place in late 2016. The state is the first to have a single marijuana program that is not divided between medical and recreational. Rather, it has two parts: The recreational portion of the Alaskan marijuana program is still issuing licenses, while the medical program is accessible to limited patients.

    In order to obtain marijuana for medical use, you’ll need a patient or a caregiver card, with no other active marijuana business licenses.

    When was cannabis made legal
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    How many marijuana businesses are there in the state

    So far, the state has issued 54 active licenses for medical dispensaries, 109 licenses for medical marijuana cultivations, 8 active licenses for manufacturers, and 3 testing labs.

    How much money is there in the cannabis market

    In 2016, medical sales were around $4,000,300, while they are projected to increase to $11,300,000 in 2021. Also, the projected adult use sales for 2021 are expected to reach around $79,300,000.

    Marijuana Growing Operation Owner requirements

    If you want to operate a legal marijuana growing operation in Alaska, there is a standard procedure that you should follow.

    Be aware that local government branches in your area, such as that of your city or county, may require special permits and licenses. However, every municipality has placed its own unique regulations. Here are some of the most common licenses and permits that marijuana grow operations might need:

    Marijuana Growing Operation Owner requirements
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    • Alarm Permit
    • Building Permit
    • Business License and/or Tax Permit
    • Health Permit
    • Occupational Permit
    • Signage Permit
    • Zoning Permit

    Therefore, it is very important to do a thorough research of your potential operating location(s) and investigate whether licensing is actually possible in the prospective cities or counties.

    You can find a wealth of information by submitting a query to the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. They provide prospective business owners with specific information regarding permit, license and registration requirements through an extensive collection of links and contact information through The Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing.

    License requirements

    Getting a license for a marijuana growing operation is the same as getting one for any normal retail store. The difference is in the fact that you will have to contact retail stores that will distribute your products.

    Opening a marijuana grow operation in Alaska is legal. However, whether it is actually possible or not depends on the city and/or county. Alaska lets local municipalities ban or revoke permissions from licensed marijuana businesses. Do due diligence and research the market before making your move.

    Current licenses available are for:

    • Retail sales
    • Manufacturing (including edibles)
    • Growing
    • Testing

    Also, please note that:

    • Vertical integration of licenses is permitted.
    • Testing licensees are not permitted to hold other marijuana business licenses.
    • Your license will be tied to the physical location of your business, meaning that if you move, you have to apply for a new license.
    • There is no limit as to how many licenses can be issued per individual or company.

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      Financial requirements

      Alaska makes it reasonably easy to start a marijuana business. As of February 2016, you can apply online for a marijuana growing license. On January 22, 2016, the State finalized the Alaskan cannabis industry regulations, which became a state law on February 21, 2016.

      Financial requirements
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      The application fees are as follows:

      • Application fee: $1,000
      • License renewal application: $600

      Annual license fees:

      • Limited cultivation (less than 500 square): $1000
      • Full cultivation: $5000
      • Extracts-only: $1000
      • Product manufacturing: $5000
      • Cannabis testing facility: $1000


      Starting any new business takes time, but marijuana businesses can take even longer due to their unique license requirements. Allow at least a year to get your Alaska growing operation started.

      Resources that can help you open a growing operation in Alaska

      Looking to start a marijuana growing operation in Alaska? These consulting firms can help.

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