The Latest: Alaska voters reject local bans on legalized pot

This December 2016 photo shows cannabis plants growing in a cultivation space inside Croy's Enterprises near Soldotna, Alaska. Voters in parts of Alaska will decide in local elections on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, whether to ban commercial cannabis operations, including retail stores and cultivation facilities.

The Latest on votes in parts of Alaska to ban legalized marijuana operations (all times local):

10:05 p.m.

Voters in some parts of Alaska rejected attempts Tuesday to ban marijuana businesses.

Citizen initiatives were handily losing in and around the city of Fairbanks and in rural areas of the Kenai (KEE'-ny) Peninsula southwest of Anchorage.

Had the measures been approved, marijuana growers and retail stores would have had to close their shops.


Marijuana taxes for July bring in $577,000

According to the state Department of Revenue, the marijuana cultivation industry in Alaska is continuing to grow.

Recently released tax receipts from the month of July show cultivation businesses paid $577,000 in state taxes - the highest total of any month so far.

Fairbanks still has the most pot growing businesses of any municipality in the state, with 12 of Alaska's 46 cultivating operations based in the greater Fairbanks area.

In total, marijuana businesses paid taxes on 612 pounds of marijuana buds and flowers, and 369 pounds of trimmed plant material in July.

Since marijuana was legalized, cultivators have paid a total of about $2.3 million dollars in taxes.


With more cultivators coming online, Alaska's marijuana industry hits new tax highs

Marijuana tax revenues continue to break state records, with projections for the month of July expected to yield the most money from cannabis cultivators to date.

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, the state anticipates collecting around $571,000 for July, bringing the tax total since legalization to more than $2.3 million.

Six new cultivators came online in July, a gradual trend that’s driving a growing tax base.

“The process is taking a lot longer [than expected,]” said cultivation director for The Frost Frontier Evan Schlosberg, whose cannabis grow operation is one of the many in the industry that’s been working months behind the scenes just to get to the starting line.


Harvest season includes first full cannabis crop in Alaska

It's high time to pick that pot

September is harvest season in Alaska and the fields are getting a haircut, while farmers’ markets in Southcentral are teeming with carrots and kale, potatoes and leeks, and a variety of other vegetables such as mizuna, snow apples, and daikon radish.

But for the first time, there’s a big new crop: Cannabis. Its harvest is well under way. By Sept. 21, the air is just too cold in most parts of Alaska — and the ground too — to do the plants any good. The end of the season for sativa plants has arrived.

With as many as 50 licensed commercial cannabis growers around the state working the short-but-intense Alaska growing season, the fall of 2017 will be the first year when a flush of legally grown Alaska marijuana is harvested.


A trim from Big Leaf

John Banister had a crew of workers packaging cannabis at a marijuana manufacturing business. Another crew was helping with a harvest at a cultivator’s site. Banister also had workers trimming and making joints at another cannabis facility.

It was a typical Thursday for Big Leaf, a 6-month-old company that provides skilled labor and consulting to marijuana growers and manufacturers preparing to get their product to market.

“The one thing we do best is trimming weed,” Banister said. “Trimming weed is the foundation of the company.”

The business started as a side gig for Banister, a carpenter with nine years of experience working in the marijuana industries in Colorado and California.


States forge path through uncharted territory to legal pot

Legal weed has unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit across the USA and holds the potential to reshape communities, but voter-approved relaxation of drug laws may bring consequences we don't yet understand as we soften the war on drugs.

A USA TODAY Network investigation into marijuana legalization reveals increases in marijuana-related car crashes and in hospitalization of kids who steal their parents' pot, of black-market smuggling rings and the challenges of running cash-based businesses that can’t use traditional banks because of federal regulations.


The Weeds on weed: what a Dutch study tells us about legalization

The Weeds crew have finally discussed weed — specifically, marijuana use and policy. On the July 19 episode of the podcast, Vox’s Sarah Kliff, Matt Yglesias, and Ezra Klein talk about a paper — aptly titled “High Achievers” — out of the Netherlands that found marijuana use correlates to worse academic performance.

The 2015 Maastricht University study followed university students and tracked their academic achievement, with the intent to measure a temporary policy change in the city of Maastricht that restricted legal access to cannabis based on nationality.


Pot and Lots of Money: Six Things About Tuesday's Anchorage Assembly Agenda

The Anchorage Assembly meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the bottom floor of the Loussac Library.

The two big topics? Marijuana and money. A resolution from the downtown assemblyman points to a brewing storm over public consumption and the number of pot shops downtown.

Meanwhile, the city wants a few more million dollars to finish its long-suffering SAP software upgrade project, and another half-million to backfill revenue losses posted by the Sullivan Arena in 2016.

Here's a rundown of six key issues on this week's agenda. The full agenda is available on the city website.


Alaska marijuana taxes top $1 million

Last Wednesday, Ben Wilcox ended his workday late: He had to. With the rain having let up in Juneau for one brief day, he took the opportunity to repaint the Franklin Street facade of what will be Juneau’s fourth marijuana shop.

That shop, which has yet to be named and is scheduled to open this fall, is a sign of the marijuana industry’s continued growth in Alaska. On Friday, the Alaska Department of Revenue offered some other signs.

The state of Alaska has now collected more than $1 million in marijuana tax revenue, and the pace of sales appears to be picking up.


American High: State-by-State Guide to Legal Pot

While Congress has largely refused to roll back, or even debate, the federal prohibition on pot, local voters across the U.S. have cast ballots to end the war on marijuana. But the nation's patchwork of pot laws can be confusing – even in the states where it's allowed – so here's a blueprint of what you can and can't do in the eight states (plus D.C.) where weed's been legalized for recreational use.


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