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

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

(Image courtesy CDC)
Officials: COVID is at a plateau in Alaska

The approved COVID vaccines, Zink said, are the best tool to get cases to drop off.

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

“Soctober” will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the Cook Inlet Counseling parking lot at 10200 Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, and consists of rock painting, the winter gear giveaway and a free spaghetti lunch. (Image via Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse)
Recovery group to host outreach event

The event will include rock painting, the winter gear giveaway and a free spaghetti lunch.

Finn Petersen, left, is announced the winner of a $49,000 Alaska 529 scholarship on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, as part of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine program. (Photo via the Alaska Chamber of Commerce)
Anchorage residents win latest vaccine lottery

“Give AK a Shot” awards $49,000 in cash scholarships to one newly vaccinated adult and one child.

Jason Floyd testifies in opposition to COVID-19 mandates during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Protesters pack council meeting, declare ‘medical liberty’

Attendance at Wednesday’s meeting was reduced to standing-room only.

Baked goods are on display during a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce pie auction in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Soldotna Chamber of Commerce)
‘Local gourmets’ to share baking skills at Soldotna Pie Auction

The Great British Baking Show-esque event showcases local culinary talent.

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Chugach campgrounds to be closed for beetle kill mitigation

Only one campground will be closed at a time, and updates on closures will be shared to the Chugach National Forest’s website.

Most Read