After legalization of cannabis in Alaska on Nov. 4 2014, the real work was just beginning. I had no idea my life would be changed forever as I became more and more involved with the legalization process. As the co-owner of a small drywall contracting company in Kenai, my initial interest was merely the hope of finally transitioning out of the construction world. I looked forward to the less physically demanding, more laid back world of gardening (cannabis gardening, that is).
Boy was I wrong! The fast-moving pace of this new legal industry is mind-blowing, and if you’re not careful you may get swept into a place you always wanted to be but never thought you would get to, the ground floor of a massive industry, where anything you can dream can be had. But there is a price. Mine has been almost every moment of my free time, fishing trips, cartoons on Sunday and being plain old lazy at times.
So is it worth it? We shall see …
So where does one start when devising a plan to be involved, to become a cannabis business owner? I have found there are no real rules, just opportunities that arise, people you meet and a strong desire to see things through. Where do I begin? The first thing I was after was acquiring a solid team of professionals to advise me on how to get started. I quickly learned that I was a long way from needing a team of professionals; first we need our state to create regulations to run this industry. The only way to personally have any effect on regulations would be to get involved, get educated and get my voice out there. But there is no guide, no “Road to Success in the Cannabis Industry for Dummies” book lying on the shelf at my local library. Time to get creative.
The first thing I did was attend a ridiculously priced seminar ($420 of course), made a few contacts, and brought home a fancy booklet with a ton of information. I was able to find and meet local activists who had similar goals and interests, and was able to create a working group that met and discussed relevant issues. Alaska Green Resources meets twice monthly and features industry professionals from around the country as guest speakers. These are folks with firsthand knowledge and experience of all different facets of the industry, from insurance specialists to a CPA that has knowledge of UNICAP and tax code 280E. I’ve gone as far as reaching out to interesting folks online, a cultivator in Washington, a specialty magazine editor, ancillary business owners, all to get a glimpse inside this world of legal, regulated cannabis.
Dollynda Phelps is involved with Alaska’s emerging cannabis industry in a variety of ways. She has gone from holding a “Yes on 2” sign on the sidewalk to founding Alaska Green Resources. She is the co-owner of a drywall contracting business, and she and her husband, Jeff, plan on operating a cannabis cultivation business when the appropriate license becomes available.