Kenai Peninsula Borough to consider potential ban on marijuana cultivation

  • Monday, January 19, 2015 12:08am
  • News

Marijuana advocates are planning to fill Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting for the introduction of an ordinance that, if enacted, would be put to the voters to decide in October if commercial marijuana cultivation should be prohibited within the borough.

The ordinance, sponsored by assembly member Kelly Wolf, intends to exercise the option written in the marijuana initiative that grants municipalities the authority to govern certain aspects of the pot industry within its own boundaries. Wolf said he envisions zoning issues pertaining to marijuana farms and that rural property owners will come to the borough with concerns of where such facilities would operate. The ordinance is set for a public hearing on Feb. 24 — the day marijuana becomes legal in Alaska.

Wolf said it was a coincidence that the public hearing date happened to land on legalization day. He said he plans to postpone the ordinance until March after an agricultural farmer approached him because he would be out of town when the ordinance was scheduled for public testimony.

“Out of respect and fairness to the public I’m going to request it for the first meeting in March,” Wolf said. “As the author I can kick it down the road. The Kenai Peninsula is not known as agricultural area and I want to hear from farmers.”

The Kenai Community Coalition on Cannabis, a group of more than 140 members, has expressed its opposition to the ordinance. The group has structured a second town hall meeting Monday at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai to address concerns associated with how the marijuana industry could operate, and educate the public on the plant.

Coalition co-founder Marc Theiler said he hopes to carry momentum from one meeting to the next and get as many people in front of the assembly as possible to make a statement.

“It’s important to let local lawmakers know where we stand and be able to voice our opinions,” Theiler said. “Mixed in with the state’s budget crisis, we need all the revenue we can get and this is a way to get it out of the black market.”

If the ordinance made it on the ballot and passed by voters, marijuana cultivation with intent to resale would be banned outside of city limits. Wolf said home rule cities like Kenai and Seward will have the option to enact any municipal regulations.

“This didn’t pass with overwhelming support,” Wolf said of how the Kenai Peninsula voted on Ballot Measure 2. “Everyone has the individual right to make its own decisions.”

The organizer of a new marijuana growing club on the Kenai Peninsula believes Wolf’s ordinance is premature and based on misplaced fears.

Dolly Fleck-Phelps heads the Women’s Grow chapter in Kenai which provides resources to help people get into the cannabis industry. The club is a branch from the Anchorage chapter of the national organization. Members will meet monthly to discuss issues pertaining to cannabis cultivation, Fleck-Phelps said.

She said banning grow farms from areas outside of city limits is not a good idea because, in her opinion, those are the best places for cultivation.

“I’m trying to see (Wolf’s) side of it,” she said. “Cultivations have to be incognito. The initiative stated they have to be private and people shouldn’t be able to tell from the outside of the building. We want to work together with lawmakers and come to a fair and functional solution for everybody.”

Fleck-Phelps said she is going to give a presentation at the next coalition meeting about the “new face of cannabis” and she hopes to break down the stereotypes associated with marijuana users.

“It’s not fair the bad rap people have been labeled all these years,” she said. “I hope we can shed a little light and show some of the most productive members of society consume cannabis.”

Theiler said he sent a letter to Wolf and other local lawmakers to participate in a question-and-answer session with the public at the next town hall meeting. He said the reply from Wolf implied he felt he was called out and took offense.

Wolf said he hasn’t committed to whether he will be able to attend the Monday meeting, but hoped to engage in a constructive dialogue with both sides of the issue.

“We are all adults here,” he said. “I don’t want to be called out like I’m on an elementary playground. This isn’t the OK Corral.”

Member of the coalition had planned an end of the prohibition celebration with a “smoke-easy” gathering on Feb. 24, but opted to delay the party one day after seeing the ordinance public hearing was scheduled for the same night. Fleck-Phelps said the group came to a consensus that if that was the day testimony would be heard they would be in attendance to present their views. When the celebration does take place the event would be catered and have live music for people to enjoy.

“The best part is nobody will be hung over the next day,” she said.


Reach Dan Balmer at

More in News

Trees with fall colors populate the Shqui Tsatnu Creek gully as seen from Fourth Avenue on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai to use $770k in grants to remove hazard trees along Shqui Tsatnu Creek

The money will be used to mitigate hazards caused by dead and dying spruce trees over more than 100 acres of city land

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Alaska judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge Jack McKenna on Thursday ordered elections officials to delay certifying the result of that particular race

An image purportedly from the computer screen of a digital media specialist for Gov. Mike Dunleavy shows numerous files and folders of campaign advertising. A complaint filed against the governor, plus other individuals and organizations, claims administrative staff is illegally doing paid campaign work on behalf of the governor. (Screenshot from complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission)
Dunleavy faces more accusations in campaign complaint

Governor calls it “specious and unfounded.”

A recent photo of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane, missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
A 2019 photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, who went missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
Calderwood indicted for murder

Indictment charges man accused of killing Anesha “Duffy” Murnane with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20 of that year. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council gives Triumvirate more time to build theater

The Kenai City Council voted last summer to conditionally donate a 2-acre parcel of city land near Daubenspeck Park and the Kenai Walmart

Leaves fall at the Kenai Senior Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Senior Center makes plans for $715,000 endowment

The money comes from the Tamara Diane Cone Testamentary Trust

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
On Thursday morning at what police described as an active crime scene, JPD Officer Austin Thomas and Officer Taylor Davis walk the fielded area which was blocked off by crime scene tape. Multiple tents and a police vehicle sat in the field where the tape surrounded, another police vehicle sat in a dirt parking area.
No arrests made as Juneau death investigation continues

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday that a woman’s body was found

Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

About 21,000 people living along a 1,000-mile stretch of Alaska’s western coast were affected by the storm

Camille Broussard testifies in support of an advisory planning commission in Nikiski during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves advisory planning commission for Nikiski

The commission area as petitioned and approved covers just over 3.5 million acres

Most Read