Mat-Su Borough Mulls Marijuana Regulation

 There’s no shortage of ideas as to how to deal with legal pot in the Valley.  

The Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly is considering drafting an ordinance establishing  marijuana regulations. To that end, the mayors of the three cities within the Borough and the Mat Su Borough mayor collectively called for public input on the proposed legislation. With many of the legal aspects of the state’s new marijuana law still to be defined, Palmer mayor DeLena Johnson cautioned:

“This is something we have to take control of before it gets away from us at a higher level”

The four mayors and Borough attorney listened for about two and a half hours, and may have been surprised at what they heard. Unlike the passionate pre-election arguments for or against legalization, those who spoke Thursday were focused on taking full advantage of marijuana -related business opportunities. Wasilla’s Sarah Williams:

“First thing that I’d like to address is that the committee or state allow for the co-existence of the cultivation, production and dispensary facilites under one roof. The reason for this is the control from seed to sale, for consumer protection.”.  Williams made a pitch for  product contaminant testing .

David Holt praised the Valley’s potential pot crop:

“We have an opportunity to make this safer, because it already exists. We have a thriving marijuana industry right now. The Valley is actually world – renowned for its marijuana.”]

Houston Lodge owner Ellie Locks wants limited entry:

“We need to make residency of Alaska and the different cities and boroughs very important before we release any permits.”]

But Justin Rowland took a laissez faire attitude:

“Why would we put a lottery on something and allow only so many permits, and only allow so many people to do it, when the whole point is to bring in as much tax revenue as possible, correct? So, please do not limit this. Please do not allow only so many permits. Let the consumers make the market and set the price.” 

  Questions were raised about insurance requirements and fair taxation for fledgling businesses, and many at the forum were adamant about keeping out – of- staters away from a potentially lucrative industry. Many exploring the possibility of pot- related businesses wanted an exclusive Alaska resident-only clause for future growers and dispensaries.  Businesswoman Holly Lee:

“Say, in Colorado, there was a lot of California cannabis brought in, and I want to see Alaskans be able to provide the hemp and the cannabis for our own state and our own industry.”

Conrad Daly with the Alaska Cannabis Growers Association wanted a distinction for rules governing “commercial” and “hobby” growers.  Bruce Shulte, with Coalition For Responsible Cannabis Legislation focused on hemp

“With regard to hemp, I think this part of the state is set up to capitalize on that commercial market. It is a different product, and my understanding is that a bill that will be brought forth in front of the legislature will address hemp as a separate activity, and I’m hoping it will pass, because I think that would be a great opportunity for some of the farmers in the Valley.”

 

This week, Senator Johnny Ellis (D Anchorage ) pre – filed a bill that would make hemp an agricultural product in Alaska.

The Borough Assembly takes up the proposed legislation along with a resolution creating a marijuana advisory committee at its meeting next week.