Anchorage Assembly schedules public hearing on proposal to ban commercial sales of marijuana

Advocates who helped persuade Alaska voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana last month are lining up against a measure to ban pot sales in the state's largest city.

The Anchorage Assembly will take testimony Tuesday on a measure to ban marijuana sales within municipal boundaries. Supporters of legalization say that's premature, long before the state has had a chance to write rules for commercial marijuana facilities, the Alaska Dispatch News ( reported.

"When you have a community supporting the initiative and then just a week or two later you have a single assembly member asking (to) ban it without doing any work beforehand, that sets off alarm bells, particularly in Anchorage," said Taylor Bickford, spokesman with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.

The marijuana measure approved by voters allows municipalities to prohibit businesses that sell marijuana.

An ordinance opting Alaska's largest city out of legal marijuana sales was introduced by Assemblywoman Amy Demboski, who is campaigning to be Anchorage's next mayor.

She has said the municipality should take a wait-and-see approach and should not be test site for commercial marijuana in Alaska.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska is working to have people attend the assembly meeting Tuesday. The campaign is using Facebook as an outreach tool.

Initiative co-sponsor Tim Hinterberger said he's frustrated with the assembly action.

"We hope to remind people (that) why we're doing this kind of stuff is to take it out of the hands of criminals, and now the Assembly is stepping in to try to prevent this," Hinterberger said.

If the ban is approved, Bickford said, it gives Anchorage less authority to affect the state rule-making process.

"It's just so early. Most people recognize that it doesn't make a whole lot of practical sense for a community to issue a ban before the rules are written," Bickford said. "Nothing is going to happen between now and then. It's really just a political stunt."


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News,