With regard to the regulation of commercial marijuana operations in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, we’re concerned with a measure on the assembly agenda that would put a ban on such businesses on the October ballot.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of marijuana use. Like any other substance — alcohol, prescription medication, heroin, meth and other drugs — there is the potential for abuse. We think concerns over the potential negative consequences of drug use are legitimate.
Likewise, concerns over the impact of a new industry also are legitimate and should be addressed.
But we do have concerns with efforts to introduce a ban on commercial operations in the borough’s unincorporated areas this far along in the regulatory process.
It’s been a year and a half since Alaska voters decided to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and to direct the state to regulate commercial production and sales. In that time, municipal governments, including those here on the Kenai Peninsula, have had ample time to develop their own regulations for commercial marijuana operations, including production, testing and sales. The borough’s marijuana task force recently sent a set of regulations to the borough assembly, which were amended and approved by the assembly in February.
In fact, this is the second time a measure to ask voters to ban commercial marijuana operations has come before the assembly; the assembly rejected a measure on commercial marijuana cultivation in Feb. 2015.
Certainly, as public attitudes evolve, it is the responsibility of our governing bodies to ensure that laws evolve, too.
However, the borough followed an open and public process in setting regulations for an activity that was made legal by a majority of Alaska voters, and efforts to ban that activity, rather than ensure it is closely regulated, would appear to undermine the results of that process.