Petersburg Pilot -

Borough Assembly to consider local implementation of new marijuana law

 


Shortly after ringing in the new year, the Borough will start contending with a new law passed by voters in November’s State election that allows possession, use, sale and transport of set amounts of marijuana. The law goes into effect near the end of February, and Mayor Mark Jensen requested to include a discussion of its local implementation at a January Assembly meeting.

Statewide the law legalizes marijuana use for individuals 21 years and older but bans public use of the substance – violators are subject to a $100 fine – two components that mirror the way alcohol is treated.

On a municipal level, however, there is more leeway for interpretation of the law, especially as it relates to private-sector, retail selling. The law allows for “local government to prohibit the operation of marijuana-related entities,” according to the ballot language.

Instead of outright prohibition, municipalities can also opt to regulate commercial sellers through voter initiative or an ordinance that “could cover the time, place, manner, and registration of a marijuana entity’s operations,” according to the measure.

On a statewide level, regulation of the new law’s parameters falls to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board, unless the incoming legislature establishes a unique Marijuana Control Board for the task. The regulatory board has nine months to adopt necessary regulations in line with the specifications in the ballot measure approved by voters.

The measure to legalize marijuana has been twice voted down in recent elections– in 2000 and 2004. November’s results represent something of a tide change in statewide sentiment toward the drug, though the vote was close with some 52 percent approving and 48 percent opposing. Locally, the approval rate was even higher as some 58 percent of voters approved the passage of the measure.

 

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