Soldotna not ready for pot sales

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Thursday, December 24, 2015 8:56am
  • NewsBusiness

While the city of Soldotna is now a local regulatory authority — allowing it to profit from the commercial production, testing and sale of marijuana — no businesses will be selling, growing or testing marijuana in Soldotna for the next two years.

The Soldotna City Council on Dec. 9 voted to put a moratorium on allowing marijuana businesses to open in the city after more than an hour of testimony from the public.

Opponents of the measure said the council members were reacting out of fear and ignorance about the ongoing cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana already happening within city limits.

“The law allows it, the market desires it, so why would this body prohibit … the best answer I can come up with is fear. Fear that regulating sale is somehow a personal endorsement,” said council member Keith Baxter.

Baxter and council member Meggean Bos-Marquez were the only two members of the city council to vote against the moratorium. It was introduced by council member Regina Daniels who said she wanted to halt the spread of commercial marijuana business within city limits out of a sense of responsibility.

“This is a moratorium that was written by our city attorney and what it will do is ban the sales and cultivation of marijuana in the city limits for two years which I think is important, to give us time to be responsible …. as a government, to see how this plays out within the state and within other municipalities and we can learn from them on how to move forward,” Daniels said after she introduced her ordinance.

Marc Thieler testified to the council that he’d been involved with the issue “on the philosophical level,” for about three years as he worked to end the prohibition on marijuana.

“From the beginning, it was clear that this wasn’t a matter of facts and data and decorum … what I’ve seen across the board is a battle of ideology rather than fairness,” he said.

Thieler questioned why council members who chose to fight against allowing commercial marijuana businesses would not also fight against alcohol and tobacco and other “poisons,” available for community members to buy within city limits.

“We pretend that one poison is better than another,” he said. “It’s hypocrisy and the illusion of being fair … it’s a battle of ideology and it’s a battle of cherry picking liberty.”

Proponents of the moratorium said the city should wait to see how the state, borough and surrounding cities regulate commercial marijuana before establishing its own set of rules.

“I don’t see any reason for us to jump on the band wagon,” said council member Linda Murphy. “I just don’t think we’re ready for it in town at this time.”

Rashah McChesney is the city editor for the Peninsula Clarion.

More in News

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Homer City Council candidate Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Traffic moves north along the Sterling Highway shortly after a fatal crash closed the highway for several hours Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The state is seeking federal funding for a project aimed at improving safety along the Sterling Highway between mileposts 82.5 to 94, or between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to federal funding for Sterling Highway project

The project is aimed at improving highway safety between Sterling and Soldotna.

Ethan Benton (left) and Laura Walters of Kodiak win the vaccine lottery for the Alaska Chamber's week one vaccine lottery giveaway "Give AK a Shot." (Screenshot)
State names winners in 1st vaccine lottery

A Valdez and Kodiak resident took home checks for $49,000 each.

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. The project was discontinued in August due to vandalism.
Vandalism ends Soldotna library program

The StoryWalk was made possible by a $2,500 donation from the Soldotna Library Friends.

Juneau Empire file
The Coast Guard medevaced a 90-year-old suffering stroke-like symptoms near Ketchikan aboard a 45-foot response boat-medium like this one, seen in Juneau, on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Coast Guard medevacs man from yacht near Ketchikan

The 90-year-old suffered symptoms of a stroke.

James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)
‘Hobo Jim’ opens up about recent terminal cancer diagnosis

Varsos was named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

Most Read