The owner of Diamond C Café and Happy Cannabis is moving forward with construction of a proposed marijuana business in Wrangell’s commercial district. Owner Kelsey Martinsen hopes he will receive conditional use permits for cultivating and manufacturing marijuana, as well as a retail store.
“We are right now constructing the retail because we’re pretty sure we have that. There hasn’t been a fight over that,” said Martinsen.
His operation plan shows that he will have 15 small, individual grow rooms with a total of 45 plants growing at a time. Operation plans are required by the state to apply for any marijuana license. Separate areas will be built for manufacturing raw plants into oils, a more potent form of pot. There will be no chemicals used in the manufacturing process, said Martinsen.
“We’ll be extracting the THC out of the marijuana with ice, water and a little bit of heat,” he said.
Martinsen said there would be no doors leading between the Diamond C Café and Happy Cannabis behind the café storefront. The retail store will be separated from the 1,500-square-foot grow operation by secured steel doors. There will also be an extensive security camera system with “no hidden corners”, according to Martinsen. He said he understands people are concerned.
“We wanted it in the back. Not right out in the open,” he said. “It’s a new thing.”
If Happy Cannabis is awarded all the necessary licenses, Martinsen said he hopes to open the retail store Sept. 9. “We’re not going to start on the cultivation side until we know,” he said. He estimates his current investment is around “$40,000 to $50,000.”
He hopes to open a larger cultivation facility in a couple of years if he’s successful in moving forward. He plans to ship marijuana to other retail stores within the state.
“We won’t do it downtown. We’ll do it in a more appropriate place,” he said.
The state has a tracking system in place to assure that marijuana sold in retail stores is grown and tested by licensed growers in the state.
Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission has yet to make its final recommendations on where to allow marijuana businesses to the Wrangell Assembly. Martinsen will not be able to get his business off the ground until the assembly makes its final decision based upon the commission’s recommendations.
Wrangell Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore said the retail portion would be permitted under the current code. But, cultivation and manufacturing would not be allowed based upon her interpretation of the code. Martinsen has appealed that decision, but it was deferred during the commission’s meeting on May 12.
“Things could change, but right now that’s how we’re moving forward,” said Rushmore.
Martinsen would also need to do some construction to the building in order to meet the required 500 feet buffer between Happy Cannabis and the school, according to Rushmore. Martinesn said he’s planning on lengthening the ramp leading to Happy Cannabis’ door in order to meet that requirement.
The commission has a special meeting scheduled on May 26 to make its final recommendations. Rushmore said she’s uncertain if she has the required quorum to have that meeting. She said the commission will make its final recommendations before considering Martinsen’s appeal again. The future of Happy Cannabis is still up in the air.