Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly Rejects City-Wide Ban on Pot Sales, Cultivation

During this year’s November 4 election, voters in Alaska approved a referendum, Ballot Measure 2, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state. However, the fine print in the measure allows municipalities to opt out of legalization, which pitted pro-pot activists against prohibitionists in a city-level showdown in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska in terms of population. According to KTVA CBS-11 News, the Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly considered an ordinance on December 16 that would have banned commercial marijuana transactions and grow operations within the city.

The proposed ordinance had been introduced by Assembly member Amy Demboski, who is running for mayor. She argued that a recreational pot industry could put Alaskan taxpayers into a complicated state of legal limbo with the feds. Said Demboski, “The fact of the matter is marijuana is still a [Schedule 1 drug] — it’s still federally illegal, so if we as a city decide to opt into a commercialized industry that’s based on an illegal federal substance, what impacts does that have to the taxpayers?” As U-T San Diego points out, the Department of Justice has signaled multiple times over the past few years that it does not intend to aggressively pursue pot convictions in states that have legalized marijuana, though it has asserted that it has the right to do so.

Kim Kole, an Anchorage-area teacher and pro-pot activist who has been called the “new face of marijuana legalization” by KTUU-TV 2, said of the initiative to ban pot sales, “There is no legitimate reason to squash new opportunities for small businesses and the economic stimulus that they can create — given our current financial state, one would think that the city would jump on the opportunity for small business economic growth.”

Around 50 people engaged in a heated debate over the issue before the ordinance to ban marijuana sales and production was called to a vote. In the end, the measure failed, with nine members voting against and two, mayoral hopeful Amy Demboski and Assembly member Paul Honeman, supporting the ban.

Now that commercial marijuana production and transactions have survived a ban attempt, the Assembly has switched gears and is working to create taxes and regulations for Anchorage’s newly-legalized recreational pot industry. KTUU-TV 2 is reporting that, on December 23, the Assembly’s committee on commercial pot regulations had its first meeting.

Back in September of this year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode that challenges the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the video player, found below.