It’s been a little more than a year since Alaskans voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and this past week, two government bodies came to decisions about how the substance should be regulated in our communities.
The Kenai City Council approved regulations governing marijuana businesses in the city, governing what types of businesses and operations will be allowed, and where they will be allowed to operate, and what types of permits will be required.
Likewise, the borough’s Marijuana Task Force made its recommendation to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on an ordinance addressing commercial marijuana.
Both bodies were faced with a difficult task in coming up with a reasonable set of rules to regulate something over which the community remains fairly divided. Views on marijuana run the gamut, from those who would continue to ban it altogether to those who are whole-heartedly behind its legalization, and quite likely, a large number of people whose opinions fall somewhere in between.
We have concerns about recreational drug use — not just marijuana, but alcohol, prescription drugs, and harder drugs, such as heroin, that have been finding their way into our community. There is a cost to the community when recreational use turns into substance abuse.
That said, our hope is that borough and city regulations are effective in keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage Alaskans, yet reasonable enough to provide opportunity and access for those legally allowed to grow, sell and use it. Let’s not be naive; for underage users, marijuana already can be easier to obtain than alcohol, but if there’s an increase in use among area teens, then regulations will need to be revisited.
And if regulations prove too burdensome for those looking to take part in the industry, that may need to be examined as well.
There appears to have been plenty of give and take in crafting regulations, and while it wasn’t always pretty, the final product has been the result of a good process. We’re pleased to see governing bodies be proactive in addressing a major change, and we hope our elected leaders continue to be proactive as we see the results or new regulations put into practice.