Anti-Marijuana Industry Effort Running At Full Steam

Daily News-Miner reports:

More than two dozen volunteers are fanned out in the Fairbanks North Star Borough in an effort to gather signatures to stop the commercialization of pot beyond city borders, according to volunteers with the campaign.

The group, Drug-Free Fairbanks, has until July 8 to get almost 2,000 valid signatures from registered voters for there to be a question on the Oct. 4 municipal ballot. Then they need to convince voters that the marijuana industry is bad for Fairbanks.

The effort comes as at least 25 cannabis entrepreneurs have received land use permits from the borough for cultivation or manufacturing businesses outside of Fairbanks and North Pole city borders. Construction projects are underway and money has been spent on property, materials, licensing fees and equipment.

Jim Ostlind, the Salcha resident who became an anti-marijuana activist after the Planning Commission approved a marijuana grow in his neighborhood, said he has been gathering signatures at the Noel Wien Public Library, Pioneer Park and at public events such as the Midnight Sun Festival.

Volunteers will be gathering signatures at the Independence Day parade in North Pole on July 4.

Only voters outside of the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole can sign the petition for the signature to count. Only residents outside of the cities will vote on the ban if the signature drive is successful.

“I am just like, let’s get as many signatures as we can get and see what we end up with. Work it until the last minute. That is my philosophy,” Ostlind said. “We want to have a borough that we can be proud of and a community that we can be proud of. That is what we are working toward.”

Ostlind wasn’t sure how many signatures have been collected so far but said a tentative count was underway and is expected to be available by Friday.

Commercial marijuana supporters said they are ready to take on Drug-Free Fairbanks if the signature campaign is successful.

“We’ve been through this,” said Brandon Emmett, vice chairman of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association. “We know that we’ve got the Fairbanks community on our side.”

Emmett is a marijuana industry representative on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board.

The initiative targets the area outside of city borders because the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole have their own marijuana regulatory powers.

If Drug-Free Fairbanks is successful, all of the businesses outside of the cities with a state license would have their state license voided 90 days after the results of the election are certified, according to state marijuana regulations. Other businesses would not be issued a state license.

Voters can outlaw commercial marijuana under the local option outlined in the state law approved by voters statewide in 2014.

Voters in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will also decide whether to prohibit commercial marijuana outside of their respective cities after a signature drive succeeded in getting a question on their Oct. 4 borough ballot. The borough has a moratorium on cannabis business applications until the vote is held.

The Delta Junction City Council banned commercial marijuana there earlier this year.

If successful, a ban on commercial marijuana applies within the governmental jurisdiction where the ban is approved plus 10 miles outside of the jurisdiction if the area is unincorporated.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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