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AK: Each Fairbanks-Area Voter Will Have One, Not Two, Measures To Decide On Oct. 3

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
There seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the two Oct. 3 ballot measures about the legalized commercial marijuana industry in the Fairbanks area. Several readers have submitted letters to the editor and opinion columns to the Daily News-Miner declaring "I'm voting yes on both" or "I'm voting no each ballot measure."

Well, no, you won't be able to vote on both ballot measures.

Residents of the city of Fairbanks will be able to vote on city Proposition A but not on borough Proposition 1.

And residents outside of the city of Fairbanks will be able to vote on borough Proposition 1 but not on city Proposition A.

And as for residents of the city of North Pole? They don't have a marijuana proposition to vote on at all. They voted 158-98 last year to ban commercial marijuana operations in the city and won't get to vote on borough Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 and Proposition A made it to the ballot this year through the citizen-driven initiative process and by using a provision contained in the state law approved, also by citizen initiative, by Alaska voters in 2014 to allow establishment of a legal commercial marijuana industry.

The state law allowing the commercial pot industry, however, also allows a community to prohibit it within its borders. Here's what it says in Section 17.38.210, under the heading of local control:

"(a) A local government may prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or retail marijuana stores through the enactment of an ordinance or by a voter initiative."

"(b) A local government may enact ordinances or regulations not in conflict with this chapter or with regulations enacted pursuant to this chapter, governing the time, place, manner, and number of marijuana establishment operations."

But why two ballots in the Fairbanks area? Couldn't the proponents of banning a commercial marijuana industry here have just done it with one initiative effort? No. The law doesn't allow it. Subsection (m) states "the exercise of the powers authorized by this section by a borough may be exercised only on a non-areawide basis. In this subsection, 'non-areawide' means throughout the area of a borough outside all cities in the borough."

We have three municipal governments in the Fairbanks area: the city of Fairbanks, the city of North Pole, and the Fairbanks North Star Borough. State law governing commercial marijuana considers them as three separate boxes of voters, with each resident only able to be in one box.

It would not be fair for a resident of the city of Fairbanks to be able to vote "yes" on a measure prohibiting legalized commercial marijuana operations in the city but also to be able to vote "no" on a similar measure prohibiting it in borough land outside the city. City residents would, if that were the final outcome in such a scenario, be influencing a shift of the industry into areas outside the city while retaining the ability to purchase commercial marijuana from a somewhat nearby business. They would be having external influence on noncity residents.

That wouldn't be right.

The language of Proposition 1 and Proposition A is largely the same and proposes to ban retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities and marijuana testing facilities.

Again, you'll have just one marijuana ballot measure to contend with if you live in the city of Fairbanks or in the borough outside the city.

Wherever you stand on this important issue, take the time to vote. If you can't be here to vote on Election Day, Oct. 3, you can vote now. Early voting is underway. You can vote now by stopping by the borough clerk's office or visiting the office of the city clerk in Fairbanks or North Pole. The city clerks will have the borough ballot available and the city ballot applicable to their city.



News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Marijuana ballot confusion: Each Fairbanks-area voter will have one, not two, measures to decide on Oct. 3 | Editorials | newsminer.com
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