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Governor Dunleavy Establishes Recreational Marijuana Task Force

Sep 21, 2022

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy today issued Administrative Order No. 339 to establish the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana (Task Force). The purpose of the Task Force is to review the current marijuana tax and fee structures, and regulations applicable to marijuana operators, and provide recommendations for improvement to the Office of the Governor.

In the 2014 General Election, a majority of Alaskans voted “yes” on an initiative to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana. The initiative imposed a $50 per ounce excise tax on the sale of marijuana from warehouses to retailers and took effect in February 2015. Seven years later, now is an appropriate time to evaluate its provisions, including provisions now codified in AS 43.61. In fiscal year 2021, the Alaska Department of Revenue collected $30 million in marijuana taxes, three-times the amount collected in 2018.

“In the past seven years Alaska’s marijuana industry has flourished but is still considered a new and evolving industry in Alaska,” said Governor Dunleavy. “As we would expect to see with any new industry, concerns have been raised about the structure the industry has been operating under. A cornerstone of my administration has been to review unnecessary regulations that are a burden to business, while ensuring oversight to protect the health, life, and safety of all Alaskans. It is my hope that with the formation of the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana, we can bring together a variety of voices and perspectives to evaluate existing provisions and consider recommendations to improve the viability of the industry.”

The Task Force will consist of 13 voting members.

Three voting members who are State of Alaska officials identified as follows:

  • The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or the Commissioner’s designee;
  • The Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development or the Commissioner’s designee;
  • The Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture.

Ten voting members, who are not state officials, identified as follows:

  • One member who sits on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board;
  • One member who represents a city, borough, or municipality that allows recreational marijuana businesses within its jurisdictional boundaries;
  • One member that is a standard licensed marijuana cultivator in the State;
  • One member that is a limited licensed marijuana cultivator in the State;
  • One member that is a licensed marijuana product or concentrate manufacturer in the State;
  • One member that is a licensed marijuana retailer in the State;
  • Three licensed marijuana operators from any segment of the industry;
  • One public member.

“Governor Dunleavy’s issuance of this administrative order is a wise first step to bringing forward solutions that could assist the recreational cannabis industry to thrive at the same time we continue to protect public health and public safety in our communities,” said Joan Wilson, Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO). “After many discussions with diverse stakeholders, I am certain the State and the industry will benefit from this in-depth review, especially when it comes to addressing a stagnant excise tax rate that does not alter based on market price.”

“I’d like to thank Governor Dunleavy for making the Task Force on Recreational Marijuana a priority. This is welcomed news by the marijuana industry as it has been a priority for the past five years,” said Ryan Tunseth, Alaska Marijuana Industry Association President. “We greatly look forward to the conversations that will take place in the coming months and will play a vital role in creating longevity in the industry.”

Once the Governor names appointments to the Task Force, it will meet monthly and submit a report of findings and recommendations by January 13, 2023.

Alaskans interested in serving on the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana may apply here