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Marijuana committee meets for the first time


The Local Marijuana Regulation Advisory Committee met for the first time Wednesday evening, establishing subcommittees to discuss concerns more in-depth.

It ultimately decided to form three subcommittees: zoning, discussing where marijuana may be grown, sold and smoked; permitting and taxation; and public safety.

“My main concern is to make sure it (marijuana) stays in proper places and not near schools,” committee member Thomas Kojima said.

He wasn’t alone in wanting to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. That’s why the topic got tossed into the public safety subcommittee, along with an examination of the security of dispensaries.

Some said they’d rather not see a dispensary downtown, but no one expressed an interest to ban them from Petersburg.

Committee member Elizabeth Bacom said she didn’t want to see the black market result of a decision like that.

Chair Jeigh Stanton Gregor added that there’ll always be underground access, but that Washington state has seen its black market shrink as costs have dropped.

Mitch Eide also mentioned convenience as a factor, stating it’d be easier to stop at a shop than find a dealer. Vice Chair Kevin Clark used the example of having the ability to brew one’s own beer but choosing to buy from the liquor store instead.

There was some discussion surrounding the possibility of a borough owned dispensary.

Committee member Elizabeth Amanecer said it’d provide profits for the borough in a time its facing financial challenges with legislative cuts.

Eide said there wouldn’t only be profits, but “a sense of relief,” as well.

Brian Richards commented that he wanted to ensure there’d be “equal opportunity” for private owners who want to open a dispensary, too.

If the borough chose to open its own dispensary, committee member Chuck Rose said it’d have to consider who has the skills to run such a store and manage its inventory.

Kathy Holtzinger suggested focusing on permitting and taxation instead.

There are 19 people on the committee — 15 attended Wednesday.

Each had their own reasons for joining.

Clark said he did so for a couple reasons.

“One, we should get ahead of the curve, I believe, and be prepared for it,” he said. “The second thing was, I don’t want the will of the people to be usurped by smaller groups.”

Fifty-seven percent of Petersburg residents voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. Clark and others want their voices to be heard.

The committee’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on May 27. Subcommittees will be meeting beforehand and bringing their results to the table.


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