The Ketchikan Gateway Borough-City of Ketchikan Joint Cooperative Relations Committee agreed Friday to recommend forming an ad hoc advisory committee to come up with policy recommendations related to marijuana legalization.
Committee member Alan Bailey, who is an Assembly member, said that a special committee is a good way to make sure the public is involved in the discussion.
“I think that in the end, we will be giving a voice to the public that has differing views, and provide a good document in the end for both bodies that they can then adopt,” he said.
Ketchikan’s Marijuana Advisory Committee will have seven members, two each from the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, Ketchikan City Council and Saxman City Council, and one from the Ketchikan School Board.
The original proposal suggested eight members, with two from each of those governing bodies, but the joint committee members unanimously agreed that they prefer an odd number.
As an ad hoc committee, the new board would disband once it has completed its recommendations.
The new committee is officially a borough-run board. That means each of the local governing bodies will submit the names of their nominees to the borough mayor, who will then appoint the members.
Also on Friday, the Cooperative Relations Committee talked about a possible borough-wide excise tax on tobacco products.
Committee member DeAnn Karlson, who is a Ketchikan City Council member, said that tobacco use has a huge impact on local businesses, through health insurance premiums and lost productivity.
“I know we’re going to get a huge amount of flak from smokers, but I also think it’s time to step up and do something to try to detour the continuing cycle of addiction,” she said. “If it’s possible to stop that in the young people, I just think that’s a win-win for everyone.”
A recommendation that the borough and city officially consider establishing a tobacco tax was approved unanimously by the joint committee.
The committee also talked about the borough’s contribution to funding the city-run Ketchikan Public Library’s operations. There was no resolution to the discussion, although representatives from both governments agreed that they were facing fiscal challenges in the near future.
The library funding issue likely will come up again at the next cooperative relations committee meeting.