To Thine Own Self Be True

Budding Industry.png

Budding Industry

To Thine Own Self Be True

Words / Whitney Branshaw

Photo / Joel Adams



The marijuana industry in Alaska is slowly blooming as we near spring. Spring in Alaska brings change in a way that you can only understand after you experience an entire season rotation. Cabin fever is among us and, as we transition into more light, our perspectives start to change with the season. One thing I would like to see change in the Alaska marijuana industry is the air. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s stuffy as fuck in here. I’ll never forget the excitement that came with passing Ballot Measure 2 back in 2014—everyone was united and elated. I imagined us all frolicking together through fields of weed, holding hands, encouraging others and lifting each other up as we began our journey into the legal industry.


That idea is far from the reality of the current situation. The industry has become dramatic, cliquey and exclusive rather than inclusive. We are divided. There have been several contributing factors to the division among people in the industry: the delay in licensure, difficulties in navigating local government, maintaining healthy business relationships through stressful times and trying to stay afloat while building a business, as well as supply and demand—all are stressors that enhance the ugliness that has bubbled to the surface lately.


We also have our keyboard warriors (you know who you are). Folks that are green with envy and folks that wanted to get into the industry but couldn’t hack it. We also have the know-it-alls and “expert” cultivators who use the Facebook page Alaska Canna Review (ACR) to have their “my weed dick is bigger than your weed dick” battles on the daily. People expend incredible amounts of energy into bashing folks that have been able to stay afloat in the legal recreational industry, claiming that they have “sold out” in regard to their black market roots. I feel like its way past time for someone to tell ya’ll to grow the fuck up. So, I’ll do it. Grow the fuck up.


I was hesitant to address the current climate of the industry, as I’m a positive person who wants everyone to succeed. But as a voice of the industry and someone who cares about the future of legal marijuana in Alaska, I felt that I had no choice. When I first meet marijuana business owners that I’ve heard little about, I always ask why they’ve kept a low profile. Their answer is always the same: to avoid the noise. I can’t blame them, you have to have thick skin to have survived the last few years.


If we stay divided and refuse to come together and work together we will never reach our maximum potential. Yes, folks will fade away, but the damage that they have done to others takes longer to dissipate. Alaska is small; we all know each other, especially in this small industry. Rotten apples are everywhere among the fresh fruit. We see you. Don’t forget that.


Although there is a fair amount of discord and disdain in the Alaska marijuana industry, there are people out there trying to join folks together and focusing their energy into issues that need our support and attention, and we need to mobilize now.


Valdez is a month away from a ban vote. If you’re in that community and support legal marijuana, then get out there and help with the campaign. More importantly, get out and VOTE! The Mat-Su defeated a proposed ban in October due to the tireless campaign and a record number of voter turnout. That took an incredible amount of time and energy. The Kenai Peninsula is up for a ban vote in October. If you’re in that community, start talking about it with your neighbors. Keep the conversations going. The majority of the product in the legal market has come from the K-Pen and if we want retailers to stay open we need these businesses to stay online. Their communities do too. These businesses have already paid tens of thousands of dollars in taxes that go directly back into the community. Senate Bill 6, which allows for industrial hemp production, is sitting in the finance committee today, awaiting passage. Write your legislators and tell them you support industrial hemp in Alaska. Not just for the ability to produce our own CBD products, but for its other uses such as housing insulation, papermaking, fabric and bio fuel.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this fight did not stop in November 2014 when we passed ballot measure 2. That was just beginning. That was the easy part. As we progress and grow as an industry we need to remember that engaging in activism surrounding these issues is imperative to its success. Over the next few days a large number of licenses are slated to be approved by the Marijuana Control Board. This will allow the start of more product being cultivated before tourist season hits. We don’t have enough products on the shelves to satisfy our residents, let alone the tourist boom we are about to experience.


Ya’ll might be wondering why you're seeing this column published on Crude before seeing it in the Anchorage Press. With the change in seasons, I decided I needed a slight change as well. My column will still appear in the Anchorage Press through syndication every week, but its home will be Crude. Being authentic and honest, while being an advocate for the industry, is always what has been most important to me. We only have this one life. Live like you mean it.