Ketchikan borough won’t oppose proposed marijuana cafe north of town

A view of Ketchikan from the top of the Edmonds Street stairs. (Photo courtesy State of Alaska)

A proposed onsite marijuana cafe in Ketchikan won’t face opposition from local officials. That was just one upshot from Monday’s Borough Assembly meeting.

Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly waived its right to protest a state license application from Cannabis Corner, a marijuana retailer in the Totem Bight area.

Assembly member David Landis said he didn’t see a legal reason for the borough to object. 

“This is a legal industry in the state of Alaska, and this is a legal activity under Alaska law,” Landis said.

But not everyone was convinced. Assembly member Alan Bailey says he’s worried about stoned drivers on the road. 

“Impaired drivers kill too many people in this community and around this state,” Bailey said.

As with a liquor license, marijuana licenses are up for annual renewal. So if there’s an uptick in stoned driving, Landis said, the assembly would have another opportunity to protest. 

“The way that I see it is that this business has a chance to prove itself,” Landis said. “This community, the consumers of this product have a chance to prove to us that this is a safe activity.”

Assembly members Sue Pickrell joined Bailey to oppose the motion. It passed 5-2.

State marijuana regulators are scheduled to consider the permit later this month. If approved, Cannabis Corner could be among the first marijuana cafes in Alaska.

In other business, the Assembly voted 6-1 to endorse the federal government’s rollback of the  Roadless Rule in Tongass National Forest. The Clinton-era rule adds restrictions to road building in national forests. The City of Ketchikan and local business groups have also endorsed a rollback. Assembly member Austin Otos was the sole vote in opposition.

The Assembly also voted unanimously to increase the school district’s spending authority by more than $900,000 after the district received more state funding than budgeted. The bulk of that will likely go towards the district’s health insurance reserve fund.

Though the state provided the funding, the Assembly has the sole ability to control how much the district is allowed to spend. The updated spending cap will come up for final approval at the Assembly’s Jan. 20 meeting.