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Assembly, community to start deciding on local marijuana regs


As Petersburg Borough administrators draft a local marijuana ordinance, borough manager Steve Giesbrecht asked questions for the Borough Assembly, and the community, to answer regarding commercial marijuana regulations in the borough.

“What you have also is a list of six questions that we need some guidance on to fill in the blanks on this ordinance before we finalize it enough to bring it back to the assembly for a vote,” Giesbrecht said.

Giesbrecht and other staff have been creating a draft ordinance and found it most helpful to copy and paste from the borough’s alcohol ordinance.

“I actually took our current alcohol ordinance, used that as a base, and made some minor changes to it to add the marijuana things to it,” Giesbrecht said. “It worked much, much better for the attorney and we ended up with something that meets the needs of the borough.”

The six questions, along with a little context, are as follows:

Should the borough have a separate local license for marijuana facilities?

The state currently issues business licenses but there is a local option. The borough currently doesn’t issue business licenses. It does have a sales tax registration for new businesses. Giesbrecht recommended the assembly not require a local business license.

“It’s just an extra level of administration and hassle,” Giesbrecht said.

Should the borough allow a marijuana facility on borough owned property?

This basically means that the borough assembly could ban a person from opening up a marijuana business on land it leases from the borough, including retail, cultivation, manufacture or testing—the four types of permits the state issues. Each permit must be owned by a separate party, meaning an individual couldn’t grow and sell marijuana.

Should the borough allow onsite use of marijuana at a retail location?

State regulations allow the consumption of marijuana in retail locations, but like anything related to state statutes and regulations, local municipalities can choose to be more restrictive.

Should the borough limit the hours of operation for a retail marijuana store?

State statute requires retail marijuana establishments to be closed from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. The borough could require closing times more in line with local bars, which is from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

Should the borough set a maximum number of permits within the community?

The state, like Colorado and Washington, hasn’t set a maximum of any type of marijuana permits.

“It comes down to the question of if you want to let free enterprise run and allow the state to sell as many permits as they want or does the Borough Assembly want to say ‘we’re only going to allow one retail permit or one manufacture permit or something like that,” Giesbrecht said.

Should the borough restrict any one of the four types of locations associated with marijuana business?

Simply put, if the Borough Assembly restricted one type of permit, it could be tough for a local industry as a whole to succeed.

The Borough Assembly also voted for itself to become the Local Marijuana Regulatory Authority but, according to Giesbrecht, the body won’t see much action.

“You probably won’t have to do anything,” Giesbrecht said. “This is set up that if somebody applies to the state and does not get an answer in a timely fashion they then can apply to the local, whoever the committee is, and say ‘hey will you grant my permit?’”

The borough also needs to have an authority set up to receive any potential marijuana tax revenue, should the state decide to engage in revenue sharing. The assembly also has the option to create an excise tax, similar to the extra tax on tobacco, on marijuana products.

Borough Assembly members Eric Castro and Jeigh Stanton Gregor, along with Petersburg Police Chief Kelly Swihart are headed to Wrangell on March 1 to learn more about and ask questions of state regulations during a public meeting with Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Director Cynthia Franklin.

The assembly will likely begin the process of approving a marijuana ordinance in March.

Individuals can also view these questions and provide feedback on the borough’s website.


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