MarijuanaThe Ketchikan Marijuana Advisory Committee had its second meeting Monday, and heard from some members of the public before discussing state action and a possible local survey.

Don Wright spoke against limits on the number of plants people are allowed to grow. He says growing marijuana isn’t that easy, and limits will make growing a useable product that much more difficult.

Wright also advocated for proxy growing – allowing people to grow plants for others. He says successfully growing marijuana takes special equipment, the right environment, and know-how.

“If you don’t have the money for the equipment to do this, and the space in order for it to occur, and the knowledge to do it, you just got disenfranchised,” he said.

Renee Schofield owns Tongass Substance Screening and is on the Substance Abuse Task Force for the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition. She says if commercial sales are allowed, numerous questions will need to be answered, such as: Where would stores be located? What kind of stores would be allowed? How many? What about advertising? And many more.

She also suggested that a large portion of any tax money collected from sales be directed toward prevention programs for youth.

“It’s already been going on. It’s nothing new. But as we transition into legal pot, we need to think about how we’re going to educate and how we’re going to take care of our young people, first and foremost,” she said.

Janalee Gage spoke against allowing marijuana sales, citing easier access for youth. Wylie Allen, though, says opposition to legal commercial sales of marijuana reminds her of the term “nanny state.”

Following public comment, the seven-member ad hoc committee heard a presentation from Ketchikan Gateway Borough Planning Director Chris French. He reviewed the regulations that have been moving through the House and Senate, but told the committee that it’s unlikely that the Legislature will pass anything this session.

French says that means regulating commercial marijuana operations likely will be left up to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Committee Member Glen Thompson asked what local governments can do if the state doesn’t act. French says communities could create marijuana boards to deal with local regulations.

“It could probably be done at all three municipalities. Or, if there’s some type of agreement, it could be done at one of them,” he said. “You certainly have your zoning capabilities that the borough has, in terms of where these uses could be located.”

Or, he said, the community could ban commercial marijuana operations.

The advisory committee didn’t make any decisions, although the members agreed to ask their respective bodies for more guidance. The ad hoc committee is made up of elected representatives from the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly and School Board, and the cities of Ketchikan and Saxman.

Committee Member Bob Sivertsen suggested that the committee consider a survey, to find out how people feel about commercial sales. He asked Ketchikan Wellness Coalition representative Terrance Robbins if that group had any experience with surveys. Robbins said they recently received training in how to conduct one.

“They taught us a lot of techniques and skills to make sure we’re hitting the whole community,” he said. “We’d be happy to either help you survey, or if you wanted to work with us on the questions themselves. We could come up, we would work with you. And we would even administer as best we can.”

Citing a need for impartiality, Thompson said that while the committee could get advice on surveys from the Wellness Coalition, that organization should not conduct the survey for the committee.

The Marijuana Advisory Committee’s next meeting is set for noon on April 27th in Borough Assembly chambers.