Kayla Desroches and Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly voted five-to-two Thursday night to opt out of commercializing marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the archipelago for one year as a task force studies the issue.
The one-year ban, and any subsequent borough actions, have no effect inside Kodiak City limits, or inside any of the other incorporated communities in the borough.
Though Assemblyman Mel Stephens introduced the ordinance to prohibit marijuana businesses altogether, he was one of the two dissenting votes. He explained that he couldn’t vote to support the sale of a substance that is illegal under federal law.
“What is the purpose of the task force? The purpose of the task force is to sit down around a table and think about and discuss and come hopefully to a consensus on the best way to ignore federal law and the constitution.”
As an experiment, the federal government has allowed states like Alaska and a few others the leeway to make their own regulations regarding marijuana. Assemblyman Dan Rohrer referred back to that when explaining why he would vote yes on the amended ordinance.
“The truth of the matter is I can vote in favor of that and not break the law. Maybe what it says is I’m gonna wait one year to break the law, and it doesn’t encourage any of you to break the law other than I guess it says let’s get together and talk about breaking the law together.”
Assemblyman Frank Peterson was the second “no” vote. He explained he’s against an opt-out ordinance entirely.
“Since I’m against opting out, I can’t be in favor of opting out just for a year. I’m in favor of the task force. Love the idea of the task force. I want the community involved and I want us to start regulating it, but I can’t be in favor of opting out even for a year.”
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Larry LeDoux spoke for the efficacy of the postponement.
“This year-long delay is not a sham. It’s going to happen. The voters voted for it. It’s an opportunity to figure out what we can do to make it work so that it helps our community as much as it can.”
The assembly’s next work session is scheduled for Thursday and its next regular meeting for March 17.