Contributed by Joe McAneney, The High Expedition Co.
There is currently no question as to whether or not marijuana cannabis exists in the Mat-Su Borough (MSB). The only question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you would prefer to see that cannabis supplied by a criminal black market or by a regulated and taxed market.
A “Yes” vote on Proposition No. B-1 will effectively ban all commercial cannabis businesses from operating in the non-area-wide parts of the MSB, allowing the unregulated market to flourish. A “No” vote will allow businesses to operate and shift the commerce that is already taking place away from the unregulated market, which doesn’t exactly have an age verification policy for customers.
How did we get to this point? The state of Alaska passed Ballot Measure 2 (An act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana) in 2014 by a margin of 53.2%. The state has been constructing the regulations that will govern this new industry ever since. Section 17.38.110 “Local Control” in the ballot language set out that local governments would have the ability to prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses by means of an ordinance or voter initiative. Shortly thereafter, a group supporting continued prohibition of cannabis gathered the required signatures to have Initiative Ordinance 15-088 (Proposition No. B-1) on the October 4th ballot, which could prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses except those involving industrial hemp in the area outside of the cities in the MSB.
The cities of Palmer and Wasilla have already enacted prohibitions on operating cannabis businesses within their city limits. The city of Houston is effectively allowing the operation of cannabis businesses by means of a failed vote on an attempt to prohibit operations. If the vote passes and the prohibition is enacted, Houston city limits will be the only area in the entire borough that will accommodate cannabis businesses. It’s not difficult to imagine the tax revenue that Houston will gladly accept because of this.
Who knows, maybe we can use their brand new public pool facility they will build with the revenue after all the other cities in the MSB can’t afford to fix theirs. Not to mention the new and stable job creation, along with reduced access for minors to cannabis. Don’t worry Wasilla and Palmer, you will have another chance in the future to reverse the prohibition after watching the other parts of the state (and hopefully borough) reap the benefits by supporting this industry.
This should help your decision if you are still on the fence about the topic:
There will also be a question on the October 4th ballot regarding whether or not to implement a 5% sales tax on cannabis products. That’s right, a sales tax on a product that is already being sold tax-free and will inject the MSB budget with the revenues that are being lost every day there is not a regulated and taxed market in place. If you aren’t sure whether or not the MSB is in need of a new source of revenue just dial your district representative and ask them how the budget is looking.
Not to sound suspicious, but consider the fact that one of the main supporters of this initiative owns an industrial farm in the MSB and intends to cultivate industrial hemp. Notice how that was carefully excluded from the prohibition even though hemp is cannabis. This attempt to prohibit something we already voted on undermines our voice and prevents a new industry from starting in an economy that is in desperate need right now.
A “No” vote on prohibition means:
• Strictly regulated access to persons over 21 with identification
• All products are tested by a licensed state testing lab.
• Job and career path availability
• Legal taxable income for the MSB and state of Alaska, and a decline in unregulated sales.
The MSB needs to unite and embrace this sustainable industry and set the bar in Alaska by continuing to pioneer one civil liberty and common sense decision at a time. Vote “No” on Prop B-1 October 4th and dispensaries will be open just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with one less trip to Anchorage.
To learn more about the campaign supporting the movement, “Say No To Prohibition,” you can visit the Facebook page, “Say “No’’ to Prohibition in the Valley”, or visit the website www.savethematsu.org.
Joe McAneney is a tax paying land owner in the Mat-Su Borough and has applied for a retail cannabis business license on Main Street in Talkeetna that will go by the name, “The High Expedition Company’’. McAneney looks forward to providing quality jobs to borough residents and helping reshape the negative stigma still surrounding cannabis.