Pot shop clashes with tourism in eclectic Alaska town – So far, no citations issued for public pot smoking

In this July 12, 2017, photo, co-owner Joe McAneney poses for a photo in front of The High Expedition Co. in Talkeetna, Alaska.The store, the first marijuana shop in the quirky Alaska tourist town, has caused a divide among town residents, leaving some fearful that it will harm the tourism trade. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

By MARK THIESSEN, Associated Press TALKEETNA, Alaska (AP) 08/31 — The presence of a marijuana retail store has caused a deep divide in this quirky tourist town, where hundreds of visitors roam the streets daily browsing in art galleries and souvenir shops housed in historic cabins.

Most of Talkeetna’s stores line the two long blocks that make up its Main Street, where tourists – many who arrive in Alaska on cruise ships and are bused about two hours north from Anchorage – wander into storefronts like Nagley’s General Store for ice cream or slip through its back door for a cold one at the West Rib Bar and Grill.

 

This July 12, 2017, photo shows tourists walking along historic Main Street in Talkeetna, Alaska. A new business on Main Street this year is The High Expedition Co., the first marijuana store, and its presence has caused a divide among residents. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

 

At Main Street’s opposite end, near a river park where visitors snap photos of the continent’s tallest mountain, is Talkeetna’s newest venture into the tourism trade. The High Expedition Co. is a nod to the rich mountain climbing history of the eclectic community purported to be the inspiration for the 1990s television series “Northern Exposure.”

Talkeetna’s first marijuana retail store is causing a rift not seen in other tourist-dependent towns in this Libertarian-leaning state, where marijuana had a casual acceptance long before it became legal. But even here, like in many pot-legal states, some towns have opted out of sales, fearful it might invite crime and other evils.

In Talkeetna, some shop owners – the ones who built a multimillion-dollar business from the steady stream of mountain climbers who use Talkeetna as a staging point for treks up Denali – say this one shop could ruin the tiny town’s historic atmosphere and harm business like the eight or so stores that serve alcohol along Main Street could never do.

“I don’t think he belongs in downtown Talkeetna,” Meandering Moose B&B owner Mike Stoltz said.

Joe McAneney co-owns the High Expedition Co., which opened in mid-May. “The sky hasn’t fallen on Talkeetna, the sun is shining, and this is now the most photographed shop in town,” he said.

Grabbing the attention of amateur shutterbugs is a small “Cannabis Purveyors” wooden sign on the store’s deck.

McAneney has been working to open the shop nearly since the day in 2014 that Alaska residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana. He and a partner bought the cabin that was originally built for Ray Genet, an early Talkeetna climber and guide who died in 1979 on Mount Everest. McAneney worked with Genet’s family and has incorporated a small museum dedicated to Genet and Talkeetna’s climbing history. But even that association led to some disdain.

“Small towns in Alaska are harder than anywhere to break into and sort of become accepted,” McAneney said.

His store got its approval from the borough on a technicality when the assembly was writing regulations for marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas, like Talkeetna, and inadvertently omitted special land use districts – like the town’s Main Street. Talkeetna has no local governing body, only a nonvoting community council whose sole power is sending recommendations to borough officials roughly 75 miles (120 kilometers) away.

State regulators approved the store’s permit on a 3-2 vote last spring.

“There’s people that are upset about it, but it’s legal,” said Sue Deyoe, the Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum’s executive director.

Opposition mounted as the issue went before state regulators, where a stream of residents unsuccessfully called in to the Anchorage meeting to oppose the store’s license.

Among the biggest issue for critics is the lack of places for tourists to puff the marijuana they buy – smoking pot in public is illegal, and that led to fears the nearby river park would become the place to partake.

Alaska State Troopers say there were no citations issued for anyone consuming marijuana in public in Talkeetna from April 1 to July 1, the same as last year.

But opponents argue Talkeetna is lawless, with the closest trooper an hour away. “What are we supposed to do?” asked Stoltz, the bed and breakfast owner. “Are we going to take the law into our own hands? Duct-tape him?”

Stoltz said the very presence of a pot store will harm business in the historic town, where residents make a year’s living between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“If we lose our tourism, we lose what Talkeetna is,” he said. “We’re not catering to stoner tourists. To me, that’s the conflict with Joe.”

Seeing a pot shop on Talkeetna’s main drag didn’t bother 65-year-old Jeff White, visiting from the Louisville, Kentucky, area.

Talkeetna has the artsy feel of a tourist town in Colorado, which also has legal marijuana, he said. “This goes with that vibe, and I think that’s fine.”

One resident dismisses the idea that the pot store is giving Talkeetna a black eye. But it is dividing the town, Christie Stoltz said, noting the chasm has reached her home. She’s the daughter of Mike Stoltz, the B&B owner.

“I feel like it’s generations — the older generation versus the younger generation,” she said.

For some, marijuana was never an issue, Deyoe said, and it pales in comparison to a controversy last spring when the borough proposed leveling trees over an area about the size of eight football fields for an expanded parking lot for summer use.

“I think the community council got way more letters on that than they did in reaction to the marijuana shop,” she said.

https://apnews.com/b50bbc8b78b740c1bac08f3e5a42bbfe

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Civilian Complaints, Drugs/Drug Trafficking, Illegal Activities, Legislation, Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × three =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.