Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai outlaws marijuana drive-thrus

The state, during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed marijuana establishments to operate drive-thru or walk-up windows

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to prohibit drive-thru marijuana operations in the city.

The vote comes less than one month after council members were presented with updated regulations from the State of Alaska. The state, during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed marijuana establishments to operate drive-thru or walk-up windows so customers wouldn’t have to enter the establishment to make a purchase. The state in August made that change permanent.

Kenai City Attorney Scott Bloom told council members in September that they could either take no action or they could change city code such that marijuana drive-thrus and walk-up windows were prohibited. Kenai’s Planning and Zoning Commission requested a moratorium on such operations until it could review the updated state rules.

Multiple council members during the same meeting expressed interest in sponsoring legislation that would write into city code restrictions on marijuana drive-thru and walk-up windows. The ordinance passed by council members Wednesday, sponsored by Kenai Vice Mayor James Baisden and city council members Teea Winger and Deborah Sounart, cited public safety.

“Concerns for public safety and practical enforceability of the new regulations outweigh any public benefit,” the ordinance says.

Winger said during Wednesday’s meeting that she has specific concerns about how the city would enforce state rules surrounding drive-thru and walk-up windows, such as that establishments verify the age of every passenger in a vehicle going through a drive-thru.

“I don’t feel that we have an accessibility issue and this would just open up a lot of loopholes that we really shouldn’t be addressing,” Winger said.

Sounart said she would be concerned about someone purchasing products from a walk-up window and then consuming it on the business premises, particularly in the winter.

“Young kids make some harebrained decisions,” she said. “I would like to see them have a second chance. Mother Nature is not forgiving up here. I just see somebody walking away from the window and not making it to where they’re supposed to go.”

Council members amended the ordinance to include the recommendation from the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended that council pass the legislation.

Wednesday’s Kenai City Council meeting is available to stream on the city’s YouTube channel.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Dr. Kim Thiele stands by a wall of newspaper clippings and images of family members and precursors in his office near Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A ministry for me’

Kalifornsky doctor wraps up career after 44 years

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman game seizure bill received warmly in Senate committee

Of the roughly 150 animals the department takes each year, an average of between one and two are determined to be wrongfully seized

A collage of photos of Nikiski North Star Elementary students taking swimming lessons at the Nikiski Pool. (Photo collages provided by Nikiski North Star Elementary)
Community effort puts 200 Nikiski North Star students through swimming lessons

The lessons covered “everything,” from basic flotation to constructing rough-but-functional life jackets out of clothing

From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes BSA increase, with other education provisions

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where lawmakers must approve the bill as-is before it can head to the governor’s desk

Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about
House considers, rejects multiple school funding amendments during Wednesday floor debate

Over several hours, lawmakers considered six different increases in the Base Student Allocation to public schools

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Most Read