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

Editor, Valdez Star 

Marijuana and you: City hopes for public input on proposed regs

Officials readying to craft zoning rules and other pot related regulations


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Valdez City Council is considering a ban on allowing commercial marijuana growing in areas of Valdez that are zoned for residential.

Marijuana retail sales are coming to Valdez and city officials I'm getting ready find out what the public has to say about it.

When the Valdez City Council met with the Planning and Zoning Commission last week, the two groups agreed with the majority of the recommendations that were brought to the table by the committee tasked with advising council on local regulation.

The work session, which was held last Wednesday night before the regular planning and zoning commission's meeting, was not formatted for public comment.

Councilmember Jim Shirrell said he would like to get more public input on proposed regulations before councils passes any ordinances.

Lisa Von Bargen, executive director of the city's department of economic development, is putting together an information for a public awareness campaign that will include the newspaper.

The committee had few recommendations to regulate marijuana beyond what is what allowed by state regulation.

However, the council had reservations about allowing commercial grow operations in residential neighborhoods.

Von Bargen said the committee thought it should be allowed because the marijuana industry because "boutique growers" of specialty strains are often a cottage industry.

She also said that cottage industry can often turn into a large business and used the example of Mrs. Fields cookies as a business that started out at a person's home and became a large national brand.

Council also indicated it would not require retail establishment to close at midnight, a recommendation that came from Bart Hinkle, the city's new chief of police.

State regulations say retail marijuana businesses must close between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The city council decided - by consensus - to let the economy self-regulate.

The work session was held to allow council and the commission to meet and seek common ground on regulation with the cities advising attorney, Jake Staser.

No actual voting or permanent decisions were made.

In order for the city to regulate marijuana sales the city council must pass new ordnances, which will require to public readings. Anyone with concerns about any proposed regulations we'll be allowed to make comment.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

A marijuana bud cured and ready for sale.

It is unclear at this time when the actual ordinances will be brought before the council.

Staser said it would be wise for the new regulations to be in place before the state marijuana board begins issuing retail licenses.

The state marijuana board will begin accepting license applications February 24, and must approve licenses by May 24.

"On February 24, 2016 recreational use of marijuana will be legal in the State of Alaska under certain regulations," the city says on its website. "It is still illegal to buy or sell marijuana in the City of Valdez. The State of Alaska and the City of Valdez will continue to develop laws and regulations on the production, sale, and use of marijuana. Please check this website for regulation updates."


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