Soldotna puts moratorium on commercial marijuana

While the city of Soldotna is now a local regulatory authority — allowing it to profit from the commercial production, testing and sale of marijuana — no businesses will be selling, growing or testing marijuana in Soldotna for the next two years.

The Soldotna City Council on Wednesday voted to put a moratorium on allowing marijuana businesses to open in the city after more than an hour of testimony from the public.

Opponents of the measure said the council members were reacting out of fear and ignorance about the ongoing cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana already happening within city limits.

“The law allows it, the market desires it, so why would this body prohibit … the best answer I can come up with is fear. Fear that regulating sale is somehow a personal endorsement,” said council member Keith Baxter.

Baxter and council member Meggean Bos-Marquez were the only two members of the city council to vote against the moratorium. It was introduced by council member Regina Daniels who said she wanted to halt the spread of commercial marijuana business within city limits out of a sense of responsibility.

“This is a moratorium that was written by our city attorney and what it will do is ban the sales and cultivation of marijuana in the city limits for two years which I think is important, to give us time to be responsible …. as a government, to see how this plays out within the state and within other municipalities and we can learn from them on how to move forward,” Daniels said after she introduced her ordinance.

Marc Thieler testified to the council that he’d been involved with the issue “on the philosophical level,” for about three years as he worked to end the prohibition on marijuana.

“From the beginning, it was clear that this wasn’t a matter of facts and data and decorum … what I’ve seen across the board is a battle of ideology rather than fairness,” he said.

Thieler questioned why council members who chose to fight against allowing commercial marijuana businesses would not also fight against alcohol and tobacco and other “poisons,” available for community members to buy within city limits.

“We pretend that one poison is better than another,” he said. “It’s hypocrisy and the illusion of being fair … it’s a battle of ideology and it’s a battle of cherry picking liberty.”

Proponents of the moratorium said the city should wait to see how the state, borough and surrounding cities regulate commercial marijuana before establishing its own set of rules.

“I don’t see any reason for us to jump on the band wagon,” said council member Linda Murphy. “I just don’t think we’re ready for it in town at this time.”

 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens.

More in News

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska, looks at an oversized booklet explaining election changes in the state on Jan. 21, 2022. Alaska elections will be held for the first time this year under a voter-backed system that scraps party primaries and sends the top four vote-getters regardless of party to the general election, where ranked choice voting will be used to determine a winner. No other state conducts its elections with that same combination. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
How Alaska’s new ranked choice election system works

The Alaska Supreme Court last week upheld the system, narrowly approved by voters in 2020.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to a joint meeting of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, for his fourth State of the State address of his administration. Dunleavy painted a positive picture for the state despite the challenges Alaska has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Gov points ‘North to the Future’

Dunleavy paints optimistic picture in State of the State address

A COVID-19 test administrator discusses the testing process with a patient during the pop-up rapid testing clinic at Homer Public Health Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Free rapid COVID-19 testing available in Homer through Friday

A drive-up COVID-19 testing clinic will be held at Homer Public Health Center this week.

In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Montgomery, Ala. Palin is on the verge of making new headlines in a legal battle with The New York Times. A defamation lawsuit against the Times, brought by the brash former Alaska governor in 2017, is set to go to trial starting Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in federal court in Manhattan. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Palin COVID-19 tests delay libel trial against NY Times

Palin claims the Times damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 at all-time high statewide

The state reported 5,759 new cases sequenced from Jan. 21-23

Volunteers serve food during Project Homeless Connect on Jan. 25, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)
Project Homeless Connect to provide services, support on Wednesday

The event will be held at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Schools aim for business as usual as cases reach new highs

On Monday, there were 14 staff members and 69 students self-isolating with the virus

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate construction on hold as theater seeks additional funding

The new theater is projected to cost around $4.7 million.

Most Read