By Derrick Stanley
Alaska regulators approved the first licenses Thursday for legal marijuana growing and testing facilities.
Priority was being given to growing and testing operations to pave the way for retail stores to have legal product to sell. Retail licenses are expected to be issued starting later this year.
The Marijuana Control Board had thirty applications on their agenda when they met Thursday. Two were for testing facilities, and the rest were for grow operations.
CannTest LLC of Anchorage, a marijuana testing facility, had the first application approved. Applause and cheers followed the announcement.
"That's history right there, folks," board member Brandon Emmett said.
Mark Malagodi, CEO of CannTest LLC, said it felt good. "It's just the first hurdle," he said. "It's a big one and it's really exciting."
It's not yet clear how many testing facilities the industry will need because the amount of product to be examined has not yet been determined, board member Bruce Schulte said Wednesday. Alaska needs at least one functioning lab, he said.
"Whether the right number is two or four or one, that remains to be seen," said Schulte, who served as board chair until Thursday, when a new chair was elected.