Marijuana ban petition released to organizers of ballot initiative
City council moves ahead with zoning regulations for legal sales to begin
Valdez Star photo
The city clerk's office has released the anti-marijuana petition that organizers hope will put a proposition on the 2017 ballot.
City officials are moving ahead with regulating commercial marijuana in Valdez at the same time a group of citizen's has begun efforts to ban it.
City clerk Sheri Pierce said her offices has begun handing out official petitions to sponsors of a citizen's initiative that is seeking to ban all commercial marijuana activity in the city limits.
The group will need to gather over 190 signatures of qualified Valdez voters for the petition to be validated. Once validated, it will become a proposition on the next municipal elections, which will be held in 2017.
One retail marijuana outlet and one commercial growing facility have license applications pending for Valdez before the state's marijuana board.
In 2014, Alaska voters approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and older with the expectation that it would be regulated like alcohol.
However, the regulations allow municipalities to opt out. The measure was passed by Valdez voters by a ratio of almost two to one in the statewide elections.
If Valdez voters reversed course in the municipal elections, any commercial marijuana business already in operation under state law would have 90 days to close its doors. State law also bans commercial marijuana operations within 10 miles outside of any city or borough limits where it is illegal.
In Valdez, the city council is also the local regulatory body governing commercial marijuana. It has chosen to govern commercial sales, growing operations, testing facility and manufacturing under the city's zoning regulations.