The state’s next cannabis cafe could open in Kodiak

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Kodiak could soon have its first cannabis cafe. The details are still cloudy, but if approved, it would be one of only three licensed onsite cannabis consumption venues within the state of Alaska. 

The new cafe would be in Wildflower’s parking lot on Near Island, and only the third sanctioned venue in the state for onsite consumption of marijuana (Kirsten Dobroth/KMXT)

Janiese Stevens is one of the owners of Wildflower, a dispensary on Kodiak’s Near Island. She says the concept is simple: a space where customers can legally consume marijuana, like in coffee drinks with an option to add droplets of THC or CBD, which are different types of marijuana, some mocktails, and maybe a few coloring books for anyone looking to pass time on a rainy afternoon.

“Something different for people to maybe go to before dinner or hang out and visit,” she said.

She said it wouldn’t be very big – less than a dozen people could be in the cafe at once. State law mandates that customers need to be 21 and older, and the building has to be a standalone structure – separate from the dispensary itself.  Other laws address the building’s ventilation, and there are also rules about how much marijuana customers can consume while on the premises.

Stevens says she’s considering converting a shipping container or a greenhouse into a cafe space for Wildflower’s parking lot. But any design ideas are still in the early phases.

“I would like something with a lot of light. You know, neat flooring, some cool chairs,” she said.

She still needs to get approval from the borough, as well. But the state has greenlit her business license, and Kodiak’s city council voiced its support at a meeting in January – as long as she builds to code. 

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is scheduled to hold a public hearing on her application at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16; a staff report recommends the borough issue a letter of non protest “provided that the licensed facility complies with applicable building and fire codes.”

If it all comes together, it would only be the state’s third sanctioned establishment for on-site consumption of cannabis. The other two are in Ketchikan and Fairbanks. Alaska was the first state in the country to legalize recreational use of marijuana at certain venues, like cafes, back in 2019. The rules regulating onsite consumption went into effect that year, although the idea was approved back in 2015.

That’s the same year Stevens opened Wildflower, and she said since then, she’s heard locals and tourists say they want to hang out somewhere other than a bar. More and more states have legalized weed over the years, and Stevens says changing attitudes around marijuana means it’s less taboo.

“I think that it’s going to be an odd concept at first, but I see it in the next few years catching on to being more normalized and just kind of another thing to do in our community,” she said.

If all goes according to plan, she says it would likely be a year before she could open her new business venture.

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