Wrangell’s Happy Cannabis given go-ahead, but its doors will remain closed

Wrangell’s only proposed pot business has been given the go-ahead, pending the approval of a local building permit.

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The Wrangell Borough Assembly approved Happy Cannabis for both cultivation and retail Tuesday. The Marijuana Control Board approved owner Kelsey Martinsen’s plan earlier this month, but there is some uncertainty whether local residents will be able buy marijuana.

Martinsen is weighing the burden of a new excise tax implemented by the borough.

Earlier this month, the assembly approved a $10-per-ounce excise tax for cultivators and $2 per ounce for plant remains. That’s on top of the state’s charges, $50 per ounce for marijuana and $15 per ounce for leftovers.

Martinsen planned to produce about 16 pounds of marijuana per week and estimates the local tax could equate to about $200,000 annually. At that quantity, Martinsen would also be paying the state about $650,000 per year for the buds he’s growing.

The assembly also voted to limit the hours of operation for retail shops between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Martinsen spent thousands of dollars on the application process and has been working towards opening his doors for over a year. He renovated part of his current business, the Diamond C Café, to house both his cultivation and retail operation. Martinsen explained it may be hard to compete with the black market with the taxes in place. Happy Cannabis’ doors will remain closed for now.

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