Here’s what they say…
In this map, a green dot stands for a community that has some laws regulating marijuana or no local laws at all; a yellow dot means there is a possible ban upcoming; a red dot means commercial marijuana has been banned.
Status of Commercial Marijuana: Boroughs and Cities
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By clicking on each city/municipality the map will indicate any local rules & regulations
Green: Local laws regulate marijuana, or there are no local laws at all
Cities and boroughs across the state are grappling with what additional laws, if any, to create for marijuana businesses.
Many small communities, from Nenana to Hoonah, are waiting to see how urban hubs like Anchorage and Fairbanks handle their industries before they take any major steps to regulate commercial marijuana.
“Our council has just been overwhelmed, and we don’t know what to do,” said Kodiak City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski.
Hoonah Mayor Kenneth Skaflestad considers the ability to wait an advantage of living in a small town. They get to “watch the bigger, more active communities get up and going through the trials,” Skaflestad said.
Some smaller towns have basic laws in place – they’ve set fines for public consumption or defined the local governing authority, for example. Some, like Cordova and Yakutat, have banned the manufacturing of marijuana products with explosive and volatile gases.
Then there are unique laws: Nome’s only ordinance allows marijuana businesses to stay open longer during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race — until 5 a.m., way past the normal closing time of 10 p.m. – and during a few other local events. Marijuana businesses can open early on Super Bowl Sunday and during the Bering Sea Open Golf Tournament, too.
Bethel voters placed a hefty 15 percent sales tax on marijuana – even though application processing is banned through July in the Southwestern Alaska hub community.
Even if a small community supports having marijuana businesses, it faces additional challenges. A state law creating a 500-foot buffer from schools and other areas eliminates nearly all potential real estate in some smaller towns – including Sitka, Petersburg and Kodiak.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the urban centers – the Municipality of Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star Borough and City and Borough of Juneau – that are furthest along in crafting regulations. Anchorage has created its own licensing process and has its own permit process. Home to nearly half the state’s residents, Anchorage has the most local laws of any community.
In the Fairbanks borough, zoning regulations are in place, and the borough has begun accepting permit applications. “I think we’re up to six or seven,” said Community Planning Director Christine Nelson. (Fairbanks businesses still must go through the state licensing process before setting up shop.)
Juneau has its own zoning too, and is crafting a conditional use permit, said Jesse Kiehl, a member of Juneau’s Marijuana Advisory Committee.