Marijuana was again in the news this week, as the state Marijuana Control Board and area municipalities continue to develop regulations for the recently legalized drug.
Earlier this week, Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik was appointed to the Marijuana Control Board by Gov. Bill Walker. Mlynarik, a longtime state trooper, will represent public safety concerns on the body developing marijuana regulations.
The board met Thursday in Fairbanks, and, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, signed off on four statutory changes it would like to see the Legislature take up in the next session. Those items include allowing cannabis clubs, updating criminal law, clarifying the difference between a personal grow and an illegal operation, and giving villages the ability to opt out of commercial marijuana sales.
During their meeting Wednesday, members of the Kenai City Council were given questionnaires, the answers from which are intended to give the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission guidance in developing rules to regulate marijuana businesses within city limits.
While council members’ views on the issue vary, they all started with the assumption that marijuana sales should be legal in the city.
While much work has been done in crafting regulations for the marijuana industry, there is still much to do. Colorado and Washington may provide a template, but those states are still learning what works and doesn’t work.
Moving forward, state and local regulators will be best served by constructive public comment from people on all sides of the issue. It’s important that those drafting the rules have a good sense of where the public feels industry should be restricted — for example, near schools — as well as how to fulfill the intent of Alaska voters who made marijuana legal last fall.
Draft state regulations have been posted for public comment; visit For more information on the proposed regulations and to submit comment, go to commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/abc. The comment period is July 7-Aug. 8.
City councils and commissions, as well as the borough assembly, also are likely to take up marijuana issues in the coming months. There will be plenty of opportunity for the public to be involved; it is now up to the public to ensure that regulations are crafted that we all can live with.