Commercial marijuana businesses will be allowed in the city limits of Soldotna starting Jan. 1.
At Wednesday night’s city council meeting, Mayor Pete Sprague broke a tie vote by voting no on an ordinance that would have indefinitely extended the city’s two-year moratorium on marijuana businesses.
“We did pass a moratorium two years ago,” Sprague said. “But, the reality is that marijuana is here, the cannabis industry is here and it’s not going away.”
The ordinance’s defeat will allow commercial marijuana within city limits but the council will have the opportunity to create their own regulations on how the marijuana industry will look in downtown Soldotna.
“We can have far more stringent regulations than the state and the borough,” Sprague said. “And we have the opportunity to tax the heck out of it.”
Council members Tyson Cox, Lisa Parker and Regina Daniels voted no on the ordinance. Paul Whitney, Tim Cashman and Linda Murphy voted yes. Sprague broke the 3-3 tie with his no vote.
“I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to smoke it, to grow their own pot,” Murphy said. “… I don’t necessarily want that in this little town. We have a very small footprint.”
The decision came after nearly an hour of public comment, the majority of which was in opposition to the ordinance. Speakers cited concerns such as the lack of a public vote and lost revenue.
“It’s not necessarily turning lemons into lemonade,” Sprague said. “But I’m trying to face the new reality of the 21st century.”
— Kat Sorensen