The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board has levied hefty fines against hosts of the recent Alaska Cannabis Classic. The board, which regulates marijuana in the state, says that the operators of the event both illegally sold marijuana and promoted public consumption.
The event took place on May 19th in Anchorage and while marijuana is legal for possession in Alaska, public consumption is not and licenses are required for sales.
Organizers were fined $20,000 total, though $15,000 is suspended with terms that the event does not again violate Alaska marijuana laws moving forward Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board director Erika McConnell said in an email to Anchorage Daily News.
May’s event was the fourth time the Cannabis Classic has been held in Alaska dating back to 2015. The competition previously was held at a different venue until 2016 when event and building organizers got into a conflict about free samples according to ADN reports.
The fine total arises from two separate $10,000 fines levied by the board for violations including: Selling marijuana without a license in the form of $350 marijuana judging kits; and “allowing and encouraging” public consumption of cannabis.
Husband and wife duo Cory and Kendra Wray organized the event, much like the couple organizes similar events across the western United States as well.
The Alaska Cannabis Classic offered attendees the chance to be a part of the event through “judgeships.” The cost was $350 and those who were interested in judging marijuana at the event submitted for the positions and paid the fee which included a kit containing one ounce of marijuana flower and marijuana concentrate extracts.
The Wray’s are accused of “Essentially selling marijuana to individuals through their website,” according to McConnell’s memo but Cory Wray disagrees.
On Friday, Wray stayed that the event does not sell marijuana at all, but instead offers an educational course, an extension of his passion and mission of cannabis education. The kits were only awarded to individuals who took a class, Wray said. Upon passing the exam, “Then they’re given the cannabis for free to apply their skills,” he said, along with t-shirts and tickets to the event.
“They’re purchasing an experience and education,” Wray went on to say .
In Alaska currently it is legal to give away up to an ounce of marijuana.
As far as the second violation goes relating to consumption, Wray had words for that as well. According to the organizer, all attendees were given a program which outlined the state’s public consumption law. In Alaska, anyone who is found publicly smoking marijuana can be fined up to $100, which is a civil citation, akin to a traffic ticket.
“If people were consuming … they should be the ones that are liable for that,” Wray said, essentially passing the onus back to the attendees. He also said they plan to be back. “We just want to better understand the rules so that we can comply and add value to the industry.”