By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Marijuana board ordinance passes its first reading

Council will act as regulatory body – but that could also change


The Valdez City Council is going to pot – or will at least act as the local regulatory body as the state board shapes new laws to govern how marijuana can be legally sold and consumed across the state.

“This is just a first step in many meetings, to meet a deadline,” Mayor Larry Weaver said a week ago Monday when the council voted unanimously to make itself the local regulatory body. “There will be much more public input, just to clarify that.”

The ordinance must pass a second reading by council to become official.

Local government is acting under a deadline from the state. If no local regulatory body is in place before November 24, local options to regulate marijuana would be off the table.

“This can be changed by us,” Weaver said, “to suit our needs as things come up.”

In previous meetings, the council said it will consider the option of creating a different regulatory body in the future.

Ballot Measure 2 allows municipalities to prohibit or regulate the “number, time, place, and manner of marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facilities, retail stores and testing facilities within their borders” according to the agenda statement presented to council supporting the new ordinance. “Alaska Statute 17.38 authorizes municipal regulation of the commercial transfer of marijuana, marijuana products, and of marijuana establishments.”

Under current law, adults 21 years of age and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants - three mature plants in bud - in a private, secure location, but private and commercial sales are still prohibited.

The state board will begin accepting license applications for sales and marijuana growing facilities Feb. 24, 2016 and must issue or deny licenses within 90 days of application.

If there is no local marijuana regulation in place, state laws will prevail.

Council has stated that it intends to gather local input before enacting local regulations.

Council member Nate Smith said at the last council meeting that more public input needed before “harsh are drastic measures are taken.”

There has been much confusion in the public regarding marijuana’s legality since voters passed Ballot Measure last November – often with good reason.

State laws, employee drug policies and already legal medical marijuana laws sometime conflict with the voter approved measure, which also called for the formation of the state board – which is charged with forming yet more regulations.


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