Even in states where cannabis is legalized for medicinal and recreational usage, marijuana can remain a divisive issue. Such is the case in the small quirky town of Talkeetna, Alaska. The town is a tourist attraction, as art galleries and souvenir shops and bread and breakfasts line the streets in historic log cabins.
Now included in that strip of log cabin businesses is a marijuana shop. It’s named The High Expedition Co., a nod to the longstanding climbing history of the town that supposedly inspired the 1990s television series Northern Exposure.
Joe McAneney co-owns The High Expedition Co. and the shop took about two years for him and his partner to open. Outside the shop doesn’t have any normal distinction of a marijuana shop. Its log cabin feel fits right in line with the main drag. The name itself, The High Expedition Co., serves as a tribute to the climbing tradition to the town as much as the high consuming marijuana gives. The only mention a cannabis shop resides inside? A small wooden “Cannabis Purveyors” sign that hangs outside.
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“The sky hasn’t fallen on Talkeetna, the sun is shining, and this is now the most photographed shop in town,” McAneney told the Associated Press.
His store got its approval from the borough on a technicality when the assembly was writing regulations for marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas, like Talkeetna, and inadvertently omitted special land use districts – like the town’s Main Street. Talkeetna has no local governing body, only a nonvoting community council whose sole power is sending recommendations to borough officials roughly 75 miles (120 kilometers) away.
The biggest issue for critics of the small Alaskan town worry over tourists obeying cannabis laws. It’s illegal to smoke weed outside in Talkeetna, and like in other heavy tourist destinations, the question becomes where do visitors consume their weed?
However, Alaska state troopers have stated that they have issued no citations for public consumption of marijuana from April 1 to July 1, the same as it was last year.
To learn more about the divide in this Alaskan tourist town, watch the video above.