The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Marijuana regulation in Valdez subject of a work session

Council met with Planning and Zoning to hash out the issues


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Vaporizers, such as these devises used for tobacco replacement, can also be used to consume liquid marijuana extracts. Vaporizers, such as these devises used for tobacco replacement, can also be used to consume liquid marijuana extracts.

Marijuana retail sales is coming to Valdez in the near future and city government is preparing to take a look at how it will fit into the community.

The Valdez city council, which is currently the governing body for local control of legal marijuana sales, will hold a work session with the planning and zoning commission Wednesday night to look at the issues surrounding the potential businesses that could be opening up shop as early as this May.

The marijuana control board for the state of Alaska Will begin taking applications for retail business licenses in February and will begin issuing those licenses within 90 days of the application date.

A task force made up mainly of city employees has been studying the issues in current state law according to the city clerk, Sheri Pierce.

She said the group is likely to recommend that the city council adhere to the state's current regulations.

Under state law, municipalities are allowed to add restrictions to marijuana sales within its boundaries, and even prohibit sales. Local governing bodies may not prohibit legal consumption or personal possession laws. Nor will they be allowed to ease state regulations.

For instance, state law says retail establishments must be at least 500 feet away from churches and schools. A municipality is allowed to further restrict that distance, but it may not allow sales to be closer then 500 feet.

Pierce said that while the task force is currently recommending that the city adopt the state regulations as currently set, some tweaks maybe needed, especially regarding zoning regulations.

"We've got some constraints here," she said in telephonic interview Monday.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott filed the final marijuana establishment regulations Monday, which will go into effect Feb. 21 according to a press release issued by the control board.

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City government is tasked with deciding if and where commercial marijuana cultivation will be allowed in the city limits. State law allows all Alaskans to grow their own without city approval.

"The board and staff will spend the next six months finalizing application forms, drafting additional regulations to allow for an onsite consumption endorsement for retail store licensees, and procuring and programming the seed-to-sale software. They also expect to accept, review, and approve the first marijuana licenses," the board said.

Jake Staser from the offices of the city's law firm, Brenna, Bell and Clarkson, has prepared a memorandum for city officials that contains a host of issues to consider when crafting local regulatory options. This includes allowing consumption on the premises of retail outlets, and the manner consumption will be allowed, including the use of vaporizers, like those used by many consumers to inhale nicotine.

Zoning issues, such as whether or not commercial marijuana growing will be allowed in areas where commercial green houses are permitted, also need to be addressed.


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