Citizen group submits marijuana ban petition

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect the correct date for the determination deadline for the petition.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk’s office is evaluating a citizen initiative to ban all commercial marijuana operations in the borough outside the cities.

A citizen group turned in the petition Tuesday, claiming the sponsors had gathered enough signatures to qualify it as a ballot initiative for the general borough election to take place in October. Borough clerks are in the process of checking its validity and will have until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 to make a determination, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

“According to the sponsors, they had enough signatures,” Blankenship said. “We are in the process of verifying signatures now.”

If the petition is a go, the clerks will inform the primary sponsor in writing, according to borough code. To qualify, signers have to be registered voters and have addresses outside the incorporated cities of Kenai, Homer, Seldovia, Seward and Soldotna. Since the affected area has a population of greater than 7,500 people, the petitioners have to have obtained at least 15 percent of the number of votes cast in the last regular election, according to borough code.

The petition arose out of a failed ordinance proposed to the borough assembly this April which would have posed the question on the ballot to ban commercial marijuana operations in the borough outside city limits. The assembly shot down the ordinance before introduction at its May 3 meeting. The assembly considered a similar measure in early 2015, though it ultimately failed and the borough proceeded to develop its own local marijuana regulations.

The Mat-Su Borough recently passed a similar prohibition on commercial marijuana operations outside the borough. A number of towns have passed bans as well; others, including Soldotna, have passed temporary moratoriums.

 

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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