While some communities in Alaska this year are discussing a possible ban on marijuana businesses with the legalization of pot in the state, a committee in Petersburg heard last week about the possibilities for a dispensary run by the borough.

Petersburg’s marijuana regulation advisory committee has been meeting in various subcommittees this spring, one focusing on zoning, one on public safety and one on permitting and taxation for marijuana businesses.
Some of the subcommittee members reported back on their discussions at a meeting in late May. However committee members are interested in waiting until state regulations are proposed before coming up with laws at the local level.

“A good comment was made for us not to skip forward and feel like we have to start, hey there’s this committee or subcommittee start setting regulations just to feel like we’re doing something knowing the state’s probably going to come back… and we’ll end up redoing and it’ll be work for nothing,” said Rick Dormer, reporting on the discussion of the zoning subcommittee.

The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has nine months to develop regulations on licensing marijuana businesses and prohibition of such businesses if communities vote for that option. The ABC board has until November 24th to adopt those regulations governing pot businesses and if the state regs are not approved by that point, local governments can adopt their own. The state will start accepting license applications in February of 2016 and anticipates issuing the first licenses to pot businesses in May of next year.

Petersburg’s committee spent most of its meeting in May listening to a proposal for a borough run business to grow, process and sell pot.

Local resident James Baker presented a budget for several phases of a marijuana grow operation and suggested using the bailer facility for a dispensary. He also suggested marketing the pot under the name “Petersburg’s Finest.” He thought it could bring in money for the municipality. “Now due to the state budget cuts and the current financial status, you have a justifiable reason to do so,” Baker said. “And you can control the industry here.”

Baker thought the operation could run with two employees and volunteer labor. Committee members asked Baker a few questions about obstacles for a municipally run dispensary. The committee agreed to meet again September 30th.

The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board has posted information, frequently asked questions and reports from state officials on a fact-finding trip to Colorado on the board’s website.