The Kodiak Island Borough Marijuana Task Force presented its recommendations on marijuana business and cultivation to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly last week. The task force has been meeting regularly to come to an agreement on how marijuana sale might look within the borough, and this past Thursday at its work session the assembly heard the recommendations for the first time.
Borough Mayor Dan Rohrer, who co-chairs the task force, explained that the people on the committee represented a wide range of views, which encouraged healthy debate.
“[At] one point early on in a meeting, Jonathan [Strong] stated something that Joanne [Shaker] disagreed with, and Joanne started her statement- I’ll never forget – ‘Well, I don’t mean to disagree, but,’ and I’m like ‘Wait, stop. You totally disagree with him. Let’s embrace that.’ And that’s what we decided to do with the committee is embrace the fact that we disagree, quit apologizing to each other that we disagree, everyone knows that we disagree, so let’s come together – so this was the compromise that we’re bringing forward.”
The task force decided that manufacturing of oils, tinctures, and hashes should be allowed, but edibles should not due to the difficulty of keeping the foods away from kids. An ongoing issue is that it’s not always obvious which brownie, cookie, or chocolate contains cannabis and which doesn’t.
Another protection measure for kids is the buffer zone between marijuana businesses and schools, community centers, and religious institutions. The task force decided that it should go with the established state standard of 500 feet.
The location of drug sale and manufacture proved to be a big issue during task force meetings. According to its recommendations, retail sales should be allowed in industrial and business zones, but prohibited in residential zones. Cultivation in residential zones was controversial, and the task force okay’d it for certain districts but not others. However, cultivation would be permitted in industrial zones and conditionally allowed in business zones.
Taxation of marijuana sale is one topic that the task force will leave up to the borough assembly. Currently the borough doesn’t have a sales tax, which complicates the matter, and so the task force decided to relegate it to the assembly as a policy issue.
The assembly has until late February before the temporary prohibition of marijuana business reaches an end. The next time it discusses marijuana will be at its work session, scheduled for January 5.