Fairbanks Navigates Pot Legalization

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is holding a public meeting Wednesday on proposed rules for marijuana businesses. Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins administration will be laying out a zoning ordinance governing what types of marijuana operations will be permitted, and where.

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“Trying to lay down our idea of where the commercialization aspects; the growing, the manufacturing, testing and sales can be in our community, before people select the wrong piece of property where we say that’s not going to be allowed.”

Hopkins says the borough will display maps showing local zoning as well as overlaying federal drug free zones, like those requiring a 1,000-foot buffer around schools.

“Where will businesses be allowed to set up and operate in relationship to not only our zones, but to these sensitive use areas, where the federal government and the community may say we don’t want it around certain areas. It’s already been a strong statement that (we) don’t want any of this in residential areas.”

The legalization initiative approved by Alaska voters last fall does not allow use of marijuana in public, but Mayor Hopkins says there’s no clear definition of what that means relative to businesses.

“Our proposal is not allow any of the smoking clubs or marijuana consumption bars at this time. Also, the state has been trying to bring the law forward in terms of their definition. It may not match ours, so that aspect of marijuana usage is still up in the air.”

Mayor Hopkins says representatives from the borough assembly and city councils of Fairbanks and North Pole, as well as local government staff will attend tonight’s meeting. Questions and public comment will be taken.