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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – Alaska’s cannabis industry has continued to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s having to adapt quickly to remain open to the public.

Enlighten Alaska, a cannabis retail store in Anchorage, implements strict social distancing between employees and customers. (KTUU)

“Day by day, essentially, we’ve increased our health safety protocols to keep our employees safe and our customers safe,” said Leah Levinton, owner of Anchorage cannabis retail store Enlighten Alaska.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Department of Health and Social Services released new health mandates Friday. These limit all non-essential travel within Alaska and outline strict social distancing guidelines for businesses.

These changes impact the entire cannabis industry, as it produces products for distribution around the state. Cultivators, manufacturers, transportation and retail companies are all affected.

The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association (AMIA), which represents marijuana licensees says all of its businesses now have to submit detailed plans to state health officials showing they can safely operate while limiting the spread of coronavirus.

“As far as I can interpret — and not just me alone but some attorneys, some policy makers and some folks in leadership — as long as we can comply with social distancing requirements that are laid out, we should be able to remain open to the public,” said AMIA President Lacy Wilcox.

Because the cannabis industry is not listed as an “essential service” DHSS maintains authority to determine whether to allow businesses to continue operating. However, according to the mandate issued Friday, all businesses can continue operations if they limit the number of individuals in a building at one time to ten and adhere to strict social distancing requirements.

Click here for a detailed explanation of social distancing requirements.

Copyright KTUU 2020. All rights reserved.

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