State: Half of pot applications contain errors

Alaska’s new commercial marijuana program has gotten off to a roaring start, with more than 100 applicants since Wednesday.

It’s unclear how many of those applicants will be approved to grow, test or sell marijuana products, but Cindy Franklin, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said one thing is clear from the program’s first week: Many applicants aren’t applying properly and are in jeopardy of having their applications thrown out.

On the first day of applications, 68 companies filed for a marijuana permit through the state’s online system. “More than half of those 68” were in error, Franklin said.

“There are three major mistakes,” she explained.

The first is that applicants are confirming their forms are filled out when they aren’t. The state’s system doesn’t allow users to backtrack easily, and Franklin said that’s something they’ll fix on the website.

The biggest mistake people are making is failing to list all of their backers. Under Alaska’s marijuana regulations, cannabis growers, labs, product manufacturers and retail stores can only be owned and funded by Alaskans.

The state requires every financial backer and person with an ownership interest in the business to be listed. That’s a precaution to prevent criminals from entering the legal market.

The third mistake is that some applicants are listing a post office box as the physical address of the business.

The state is giving applicants a chance to fix their mistakes, but those prospective businesses need to watch out, Franklin said. If they begin spending money on public notices (required by state regulation) that contain errors, they’ll have to spend more money to run corrected notices.

The state’s willingness to grant applicants a second chance will only go so far, Franklin said. If applicants keep making mistakes, there will come a point where the responsibility for them is on the applicant, not the state.

“We’re sending them emails; we’re going to give them a do-over,” Franklin said, “but there’s going to be a point where you’ll have to pay.”

• Contact reporter James Brooks at 523-2258 or james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

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