Backers of the 2014 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Alaska are urging legislators to oppose a measure that would severely limit marijuana business locations and access to marijuana for adults in rural Alaska. The amendment was recently snuck into HB 75, an otherwise non-controversial bill intended to clarify marijuana rules following the passage of Ballot Measure 2.
HB 75 was originally intended to establish the maximum number of marijuana plants that can be cultivated per household and define key terms in the law. It was recently expanded to allow the state government to request background checks on marijuana business applicants, at which time Sen. Lyman F. Hoffman (D - Dist. S) introduced an amendment that would make it very difficult to establish marijuana businesses in any unincorporated area of the state.
"Alaskans spoke loud and clear when they adopted Ballot Measure 2, and this amendment would defy the will of the voters," said Tim Hinterberger, an official proponent of Ballot Measure 2 who served as chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "It is disappointing that some senators would use the state's need for background checks as an opportunity to ban marijuana businesses in rural Alaska. We strongly urge members of the House to oppose this offensive proposal and either amend HB 75 or oppose it and address background checks in a separate bill."
If legislators approve the proposed amendment, marijuana businesses would be banned in all unincorporated areas of the state. They would only be allowed in an area if residents petition to place a measure on the ballot and area voters approve it during an election. Marijuana businesses would be permanently banned in unorganized boroughs where a petitioning process is not available.
"This amendment would prevent me and others in my community from being able to start a business and participate in Alaska's new regulated marijuana system," said Rich Holmstrom, who owns property along the Denali Highway. "We have every right to do that under Ballot Measure 2, and we shouldn't have to petition to place another measure on the ballot and vote again. All we're asking is that legislators follow the law that voters approved in 2014."
Source: Alaska Measure 2 campaign press release