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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n515/a10.html
Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jul 2016
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Website: http://newsminer.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/764
Author: James F. Ostlind
Note: James F. Ostlind has been a borough resident for 44 years. He
is the founder of Drug-Free Fairbanks.


Although the initiative to prohibit marijuana business in the Fairbanks North Star Borough outside of cities will not appear on this October’s ballot, there are issues that still remain very problematic.  In addition, Mr.  Travis Fraser’s community perspective of July 17, “Marijuana petition seeks to overturn voters’ wishes,” deserves a response.

On Nov.  4, 2014, statewide voters adopted Proposition 2, which provided for the legalization and commercialization of marijuana in Alaska.  The vote was 53 percent in favor and 47 percent against.  How that result was arrived at should be of concern to all Alaskans.  Those Alaskans opposing Prop.  2 spent a total of $267,612 to defeat it.  The other side, supporting Prop.  2, included two powerful drug advocacy groups based in Washington, D.C.: Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance.  They contributed $855,350 to promote the passage of Prop.  2.  How much support for this issue was mobilized with $855,350?

Do you think the outcome of that election represents the will of the people? We’ve already had enough trouble with Outsiders telling us how to manage our resource development, hunting and fishing, energy use, home heating, environment and on and on.  Now, here comes Big Marijuana telling us what our drug laws should be.

The same law that legalized marijuana use and commercialization created the local-option provision.  All municipalities have the option to accept, restrict or prohibit altogether marijuana businesses through ordinance or voter initiative.  This power may be exercised starting with the implementation of the law and at any time thereafter.  The exercise of the local option has nothing to do with attempting to “overturn the voters’ wishes.”

Our Borough Assembly does not reflect the will of local voters.

According to Mr.  Fraser,

55 percent of local voters supported Prop.  2.  The percentage of support for the marijuana industry on the Borough Assembly is far higher at 78 percent ( seven out of nine members ).  As a result, we have marijuana businesses going into residential neighborhoods because of inadequate zoning protection.  In addition, every single conditional-use permit for marijuana businesses has been approved even though the people living near them attended hearings and nearly all voiced legitimate complaints about health, safety and quality-of-life issues.

Concerns about increased traffic, noise, light pollution, law enforcement availability/effectiveness ( the borough has no police power, so Alaska State Troopers will be responding, when available ), degradation of residential environment and so forth were ignored or dismissed as inconsequential.  Residents disappointed with the outcome of conditional-use permit hearings who have taken their concerns directly to the assembly have been met with the same lack of interest.  Additionally, permits have been issued to marijuana businesses that are in violation of local and/or state buffer regulations.  These were documented in a Community Perspective by Assemblyman Lance Roberts appearing June 21 in the Daily News-Miner.  When these violations were brought to the attention of the administration, they refused to take action to rescind them or at least notify the state marijuana board that such violations existed.

What’s ahead for Alaska when Big Marijuana takes control?

Colorado’s Initiative 139 experience may be instructional.  Recently, a state voter initiative was introduced in Colorado to make improvements to that state’s recreational marijuana regulations.  Three new regulations were listed: require child-proof containers; require health warning labels; limit THC potency to 16 percent.  The marijuana industry didn’t like these restrictions and sued to stop the initiative.

Eventually, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of the initiative supporters.  By then there wasn’t enough time for volunteers to collect the nearly 98,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot by the Aug.  8 deadline.  Backers of the initiative raised money to hire signature firms to collect the signatures.  The marijuana industry offered to pay the signature companies a lot of money to sign contracts saying they wouldn’t get signatures for Imitative 139 and started buying them off.  This process repeated itself over and over until the initiative backers finally gave up.  An excellent editorial more fully explaining this issue appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on July 8, 2016.

The collection of signatures for both the Fairbanks borough and city of Fairbanks initiatives prohibiting marijuana businesses will continue at our booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair, which runs Aug.  5-14.  While these initiatives won’t appear on the ballot until October 2017, we are working hard to have them available to the voters.  If the marijuana industry turns out to be a good thing for Fairbanks and the borough, then these ballot measure will fail.  If the marijuana industry doesn’t work well in our communities, then your investment of a few minutes to sign one of the petitions will have been one of the best investments of time you ever made for your community. 

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom