Cannabis commission ordinance introduced

The Homer City Council on Monday introduced an ordinance creating a Cannabis Advisory Commission. Sponsored by council member Beau Burgess, the commission would be a nine-member body that advises the city manager and council on regulating cannabis and the operation of cannabis facilities.

The Alaska Legislature also is considering how to regulate marijuana, but Ballot Measure 2, the citizen initiative that legalized personal and commercial use of marijuana, allows municipalities to form their own regulatory bodies. With a cannabis commission, the city can receive revenue from licensing fees.

“We need to take a comprehensive approach to this and face the reality that at least in the short term some of the regulatory authority is going to fall on the municipalities,” Burgess said.

The council amended the first draft of the ordinance to add the police chief and a member of the Homer Advisory Planning Commission to the cannabis commission. The commission would include two council members and five citizen members, of which four would be city residents. Ordinance 15-07 goes up for a second reading and public hearing at the April 13 regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

“Cannabis” is the generic name for all varieties of the plant that includes marijuana, the species that has a high content of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient that causes marijuana’s high.

Burgess amended the ordinance to change “marijuana” to “cannabis” to reflect that some activities regarding the plant might not have to do with marijuana. As the cannabis species hemp, the plant also can be used to make oil and clothing fibers.

Burgess noted the strong support for legalization by Homer voters for Ballot Measure 2. It passed by 53 percent in Homer precincts 1 and 2.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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