Pubdate: Sat, 17 Dec 2016
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Author: Laurel Andrews


The first customer at Arctic Herbery, which on Thursday became the
first store in Anchorage to sell consumable marijuana, wasn't planning
to smoke the cannabis she bought.

Anna Ercoli got to the shop around 8 a.m, she said. She was given a
ticket to hold her place at the front of the line, so she didn't have
to wait for hours in the cold. And at noon, she bought 2.5 grams of
the strain Afghani Kush, surrounded by a swarm of reporters in a quick
transaction at the small shop on Arctic Boulevard.

Ercoli planned to go home and turn the cannabis into a medicinal cream
that she could use for knee pain. She wasn't shy about sharing her
past experience using marijuana salves.

"I'm 80, so whatever goes, goes, I don't care," Ercoli laughed. The
cream - first given to her by a friend - has helped her pain, she
said, but smoking marijuana makes her sick.

Arctic Herbery's opening Thursday afternoon marked the beginning of
marijuana retail sales in Alaska's largest city, about six weeks after
the state's first store opened in Valdez. Last week, Arctic Herbery
opened with only "clones" - immature marijuana plants - in stock.

By 11:40 a.m., about 50 people waited in a line that curved around the
perimeter of the property.

Bryant Thorp, owner of Arctic Herbery, had set up a shuttle service,
as he has only a handful of parking spots at the store, and the
shuttle brought a steady flow of customers to the shop.

The second customer in line, Michael Strand, did plan to smoke the
marijuana he bought.

"I'm just down here to see what the hubbub is," Strand said, when
asked what brought him out for the opening day. "I like to be first in
line at a lot of different events … I do that for concerts all the

"I feel great, this is a good day," Thorp told a group of reporters in
the minutes before opening. One person asked about the difficulties
leading up to his opening, which was delayed after a media report that
he had given away free samples led to a state violation and a
temporary stop to his city license.

"Do you see this?" Thorp said, motioning to the line. "This is the
future. We're not going anywhere."

Inside, Thorp was selling three different kinds of cannabis -
Blueberry, Afghani Kush, and Pineapple Chunk strains - from Black
Rapids, a grower in the Interior community of North Pole.

Customers could buy a package of 2.5 grams for $50, or pre-rolled
joints for $15, not including a 5 percent city sales tax. Thorp
limited customers to one package and two pre-rolled joints to avoid
running out of product.

More marijuana shops are planning to open in Anchorage in the coming
weeks and months. A second marijuana shop, Alaska Fireweed, plans to
open on Saturday.

"I feel free!" J.D. Stinson yelled as he left Arctic Herbery with a
bag in hand. He bought Afghani Kush.

"I never thought I would see this day," Stinson said.

"I never understood the criminalization of marijuana. It always
offended me," Stinson said. "In 1983, because I had 6 plants at home,
I suddenly became a criminal."

Stinson said he hadn't smoked in more than 3 years, and wasn't
planning to go home and light up. "I'll save it for when I can relax …
I've waited decades to do this, I can wait a few more days."
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