Enforce alcohol and marijuana commerce laws and provide clear, consistent standards for licensure to protect the public from harm.
- License and renew all qualified applicants to manufacture and sell alcoholic beverages, and to cultivate, produce, test, and sell marijuana and marijuana products.
- Enforce state laws and regulations governing alcoholic beverage and commercial marijuana establishments.
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|A: Result - Alcohol and marijuana control results|
|A1: Core Service - License and renew all qualified applicants to manufacture and sell alcoholic beverages, and to cultivate, produce, test, and sell marijuana and marijuana products.|
Target #2: Review and authorize marijuana licenses for qualified persons and entities.
Active, Complete, and Delegated Marijuana Licenses by Type
Analysis of results and challenges: Under 3 AAC 306, there are six possible marijuana establishment licenses. Due to the complexity of marijuana statutes and regulations and staffing challenges, application review is a lengthy process that often requires several contacts with the applicant regarding required corrections.
The marijuana license application system is an electronic database custom created for AMCO by the DCCED information technology team. The database allows applicants to progress through statuses including new, initiated, under review, incomplete, complete, delegated, and active, as well as void, rescinded, tabled, and denied. AMCO's website also contains application instructions and forms, detailed FAQs, board meeting dates, agenda and board packets, statutes and regulations, and the latest information for both marijuana and liquor license applicants.
There are two license examiners currently assigned to the marijuana program. In 2021, AMCO continued to process a high volume of transfer applications and operating change requests. Additionally, new applications were processed and several are awaiting for review in the AMCO queue. A marijuana license is good for one year and on average 98% of applicants renew their license each year.
Target #3: Review and authorize alcoholic beverage licenses for qualified persons and entities.
Analysis of results and challenges: Alaska statute and regulation authorizes 26 different kinds of alcoholic beverage licenses and permits. License applicants must meet requirements outlined in statute and regulation in order to go before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for final approval. Applicants who do not meet the requirements are not tracked and their license applications are returned.
Statute requires staff to send liquor license applications to the local governing body within 10 days of completion. Applications include new, transfers, and renewals. Liquor licenses are renewed biennially, and each year staff processes roughly 900 renewals between October and February. Additionally, AMCO received an average of 15 new and transfer applications each month.
Three licensing examiners are currently dedicated to processing alcohol applications and two are currently dedicated to processing marijuana licenses. As the renewal periods for alcohol and marijuana programs are off set in the year, the Records and Licensing Supervisor aims for at least one examiner to be trained for both programs in order to provide flexibility based on workload. However, staffing turnover has been a challenge and has slowed application review for both alcohol and marijuana.
Many restaurants, bars, and businesses closed or operating at partial capacity due to COVID-19 mandates or restrictions. Despite those changes, AMCO did not see a major decrease in expired licenses. However, AMCO did see an increase in transfer applications.
Target #4: Review and authorize temporary event permits for qualified licensees and entities.
Analysis of results and challenges: AMCO staff processes and issues eight different kinds of alcoholic beverage permits. Large volumes of permit applications are received and processed. In general, permits allow for licensees and others to serve or sell alcohol at a place other than a liquor-licensed premises. Not-for-profit organizations (non-licensees) may receive special events permits or wine auction permits to sell beer or wine or auction wine at their events. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board also issues art exhibit, club, and dedesignation permits. A club caterer's permit allows fraternal brotherhoods, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other owners of club licenses to hold events off-premises. Dedesignation permits allow beverage dispensaries to admit persons between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one onto the licensed premises for a special event at which alcohol is not served.
From FY2013 to FY2020, AMCO received an average of 113 event permit applications each month and aims for a three-day turnaround for permit approval and issuance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on gatherings, in FY2021 AMCO's average monthly permits declined to 24 per month, a 72.74% decline from FY2020.
|A2: Core Service - Enforce state laws and regulations governing alcoholic beverage and commercial marijuana establishments.|
Target #1: Inspect alcohol and marijuana licensees; enforce statutes and regulations
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2021 AMCO enforcement staff continued to conduct inspections of liquor and marijuana licensees around the state. The enforcement team of eight officers statewide inspects the majority of alcohol and marijuana licensed premises before an establishment is permitted to begin operating and when a new owner is approved by the board. In general, enforcement also attempts to visit each licensed premises at least once per year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in challenges to in conducting in-person walk-throughs and inspections. Enforcement staff had to adapt to new changes or suspensions in alcohol and marijuana statutes or regulations and be considerate of public and staff health due to the pandemic. Additionally, the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board and Marijuana Control Board (MCB) updated enforcement principles. In rare cases when the establishment is located in a remote area, the enforcement staff will work with local law enforcement and/or the licensee to find an alternate inspection method, as noted below. The enforcement team conducts fewer formal walk-throughs with both alcohol and marijuana licensees for compliance assistance.
Challenges will always include in-person inspections by AMCO enforcement in remote areas of the state due to travel expenses. Investigators often use video and pictorial inspections for remote licensees. It is difficult to achieve voluntary compliance with statutes and regulations without being proactive versus reactive. Additionally, AMCO enforcement staff are tasked with enforcing against unlicensed marijuana businesses who present themselves as a licensed establishment and unlicensed alcohol sales.
Walk-throughs are compliance assistance visits where investigators perform spot checks, answer licensee questions, and educate licensees on statutory and regulatory compliance.
Investigations result from complaints, consumer contacts, licensee reports, and the like, and involve a targeted inquiry into whether or not a statute or regulation has been violated.
Notices of Violations (NOV’s) are issued in either program when a violation of statute or regulation has been found to have been committed.
AMCO has improved tracking of complaint resolution but does not currently have the resources to inspect or walk through every licensed premises each year or to address complaints as quickly as complainants may expect. Additionally, some complaints are suspended or closed due to lack of resources or response from the “anonymous” person that filed the complaint. The ABC and MCB held special working group meetings in FY2021 to discuss enforcement priorities and violation fines schedules to help better assist AMCO Special Investigators and the Director.
Target #2: Review and issue marijuana handler permits for qualified persons.
Analysis of results and challenges: 3 AAC 306.700 requires the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office to issue marijuana handler permits for licensees and their employees who sell, cultivate, manufacture, test, transport, or work with customers or visitors to a marijuana establishment. The Marijuana Control Board has identified and approved thirteen handler permit training courses. Once an individual has successfully completed a training course, he or she may apply for a marijuana handler permit through the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO).
The marijuana handler permits are good for three years from the date of the completed training course. In FY2019 the AMCO office started processing renewal applications for handler permits. At the end of FY2021, there were 6,733 active handler permits. On average most applications submitted to AMCO are new applications versus renewals.
Effective training and education guides marijuana handlers through understanding the effects of consumption of marijuana and marijuana products, identifying persons impaired by marijuana, determining valid identification for marijuana sale, how to prevent unlawful sale and consumption of marijuana, and penalties for unlawful acts by licensees, employees, or agents of a marijuana establishment.
Current as of November 19, 2021