Marijuana entrepreneurs fight an attempt to quell business growth

A bid to put the brakes on the growth of marijuana businesses in the Matanuska Susitna Borough has caused an outcry from pot entrepreneurs in the Valley. The pot bloc let the Borough Assembly know in no uncertain terms that they’re going to fight back.

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More than two dozen irate would be cannabis business owners shook their fists.. verbally… at the Matanuska Susitna Borough at this week’s meeting. At issue.. Assembly member Randall’s Kowalke’s introduction of an ordinance that would temporarily put a moratorium on marijuana retail or grow establishments in the Borough. If passed, the ordinance would last only long enough to block forward movement on the Borough marijuana industry until Borough voters decide whether or not to ban cannabis in an October election.

At this time, the Borough has no local law banning pot, so state regulations allowing its growth and sale are in effect. That fact has drawn dozens of cannabis entrepreneurs to the Valley..most young and heavily invested in what they are expecting to be a lucrative living.

On Tuesday night exasperated marijuana advocates like Amy Tuma told the Assembly that they have already taken considerable risk to get as far as they have

“So what i am trying to tell you guys, is there is a bunch of chicken littles out here, all saying the sky is going to fall,” Tuma said. “We have had marijuana since the 70s and 80s. We are now getting smart enough to make money off of it. Why would you stop it here?

Tuma is working on a grow operation near Willow. Crystal Dietrich, from Susitna Valley, focused on the amount of money it takes just to get state permits:

“I have paid the state of Alaska for my marijuana license and background check,” said Dietrich. “The newspaper for my public ad, I have also paid UPS for a fingerprint card. All the costs for that alone was $6,679. This moratorium 16046 would crush all the hard work that many of us have done to come this far.”

A dapper looking Tim Clark took a comedic approach:

“If this moratorium passes, you will be responsible for the loss of tourist dollars,” Clark said. “There is an incredible market out there of people coming from other countries to come to Alaska to consume cannabis legally. You will be responsible for the loss of jobs in the Valley. There is a lot of really dedicated people myself included, who are super desperate to get jobs in this industry. I cut my hair for the first time since 1993 to get a job in this industry. I don’t want to work for the black market, I’m one of the good guys. I want to pay my taxes and I want workers rights.”

And Don Hart threatened legal action.

“I think it might be of advantage to you guys before you decide to vote on the moratorium that it is unconstitutional and violates state and federal law to do so,” said Hart

Assemblyman Kowalke, for his part, is concerned that his rural district needs strict definitions of what does and does not define “residential”. That definition is one of the thorny points in the Borough’s attempt to write local pot regulations. But Sara Williams, who chairs the Borough’s Marijuana Advisory Committee, said there is no putting the breaks on the marijuana train now.

” I also know that May third is going to be one hell of a filibuster night, guys. It’s going to happen, from both sides,” said Williams.

The Assembly took no action on Kowalke’s ordinance this week. Debate is scheduled for May 3.