Soldotna pot ordinance goes up in smoke

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015 9:57pm
  • News

The city of Soldotna’s latest proposed ordinance regarding marijuana has been stubbed out.

On Wednesday, Soldotna City Council rejected an ordinance that would have defined the terms “public” and “marijuana,” banned the use of marijuana in public and in motorized vehicles, and given a fine schedule for marijuana infractions.

The ordinance would have also made the city council the local marijuana regulatory authority in the event that Soldotna decides to allow for the commercial sale of marijuana.

The ordinance failed with three “No” votes and two “Yes” votes. Council members Keith Baxter, Regina Daniels and Meggean Bos voted “No,” while council members Pete Sprague and Paul Whitney voted “Yes.”

“It’s an outcome I’m happy with,” Baxter said.

Whitney said he voted for the ordinance because it clarified what “public” meant, which would eliminate possible confusion.

Since marijuana became legal in Alaska last month, the city has used the state’s definition of “public,” which was defined by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and signed by Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott earlier this year.

The failed ordinance’s definition of “public” and the ABC Board’s definition are similar. They both include places where the public or a substantial group of persons has access, and include highways, places of business, schools, parks, playgrounds, hallways, lobbies, and other portions of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence.

However, Soldotna’s definition of public would have further defined the term “public,” by including trail ways, boardwalks, parking areas, shorelines and waterways.

The ordinance would have also defined “marijuana” to mean “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis whether grown or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin, including marijuana concentrate.”

Under the ordinance, marijuana would have been explicitly prohibited in or on motor vehicles and included watercraft and airplanes.

Baxter said that the failed ordinance would have been unnecessary.

“I’m confident we don’t need a new city ordinance to continue to enforce that common sense enforcement that you need to be sober when you drive,” Baxter said.

Some city officials found it prudent to designate a local regulatory authority on marijuana, according to a memo to the council from City Manager Mark Dixson, citing comments from the city attorney.

According to the memo, per recommendation of the City Attorney: “We understand that Soldotna will prohibit marijuana establishments, but nevertheless believe officially designating a local regulatory authority is important, even if only for bureaucratic box-checking.”

The council had originally planned to vote on the ordinance at a February 25 meeting, but they postponed it in order for more council members to be present, and to have a work session on the matter.

Reach Ian Foley at ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com.

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