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Cannabis Club Searching for New Space

Photo by Quinton Chandler/KBBI

The Kachemak Cannabis Club in Homer closed its doors at the end of February because its landlord asked the club to leave. Though, KBBI’s Quinton Chandler reports the club’s leaders plan to reopen in a new location as soon as possible.

Editor's Note: In the original version of this story KBBI reported the only cannabis club still open in Alaska is Pot Luck Events in Anchorage. According to the Peninsula Clarion, Green Rush Events in Kenai reopened its doors in March. 

The Kachemak Cannabis Club closed in February but they plan to open back up again soon. That’s according to Lindianne Sarno a member of the club’s Board of Directors. She rented the downtown Homer building the club started meeting in at the beginning of this year. She says the club’s closure was her fault.

“I had neglected to obtain a general liability policy as required by my landlord,” said Sarno.

Sarno says a general liability policy would’ve covered the club or the landlord if there were an accident on the property.

She says the landlord told her if she’d taken out the policy the club could have stayed. She says the club absolutely did not close because of any pressure from local law enforcement or from the state.

“…because we are a first amendment club and we associate with each other under the right freely to assemble. As well as the right to privacy guaranteed in the Alaska state constitution…,” said Sarno.

The Kachemak Cannabis Club is one of a handful of cannabis clubs the Alaska Marijuana Control Board has heard of throughout the state. But according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, most of those clubs have closed. There’s Pot Luck Events in Anchorage and according to the Peninsula Clarion, Green Rush Events in Kenai reopened in March.

Cannabis Clubs are extremely controversial and there is a lot of confusion over their legal status even among state and local officials. When the club in Homer first opened Homer Police Chief Mark Robl believed a gray area in state law allowed them to operate. Cannabis club are not specifically mentioned in Ballot Measure 2, the 2014 initiative in which Alaskans voted to legalize marijuana and certain marijuana businesses. Robl was later told by Cynthia Franklin, the Director of the Marijuana Control Board, that the clubs were illegal, because state law doesn’t allow marijuana consumption in public.

“The alcoholic beverage control board adopted a definition of in public taken out of chapter 11, the definition of public place, that basically said in public is a place to which the public or a substantial portion of the public has access, including businesses,” said Franklin.

But, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reports Bruce Schulte, Chairman of the Marijuana Control Board, has said the board hasn’t made clubs illegal and the legislature must first pass a law to give the state the power to ban them.

In Homer, Sarno says the cannabis club is searching for a new building so they can reopen as soon as possible. She says even if the landlord hadn’t asked them to leave they probably would have needed a new building anyway, because the club’s membership grew too large for its first one. Sarno says the club had around 85 members when it closed. 

“We miss the camaraderie, the comfort, the discussions. We miss what we had at that club,” said Sarno. 

Sarno also says the legality of cannabis clubs needs to be decided in court. She feels certain a court case would inevitably establish citizens’ constitutional right to operate cannabis clubs.

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