The Ketchikan Marijuana Advisory Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that the various municipal governments in the borough not ban the commercial sale of marijuana in Ketchikan, at least not until after the state has completed its regulation process.
Committee members represent the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, the Ketchikan City Council, Saxman City Council and the Ketchikan School Board. They’ve been meeting for the past few months, and keeping an eye on what the state regulatory board has been proposing.
While the committee wants to let the state process move forward, some questions were raised about whether proposed regulations would work for Ketchikan and other island communities.
For example, one proposal requires a testing lab to determine the potency of commercial marijuana products sold in a community. That requirement alone would make it impossible for a retail operation to open here, at least not until such a lab is established.
Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson added that the proposed license fee was $5,000 a year. Another proposal was video surveillance, with a mandatory 40-days-worth of storage. And transportation of commercial marijuana would require what Thompson says is the equivalent of an armored vehicle.
He says the regulations coming out of the state will make it challenging for anyone wanting to open a pot shop on this island. So additional local regulations, he says, probably won’t be needed.
“They’re going to have a really high bar to cross, and they’re balancing that against the black market. So, if we don’t do anything, right now, this is a self-limiting situation, because we do not have a testing lab,” he said. “If you read through the regulations, unless you have a testing lab that can determine what you’re potency is and your dosage, and all these things, you’re not going to be able to have a commercial operation. We don’t have the ability to transport it on or off island, because we’re isolated. Self-limiting.”
The committee also talked about local government running a retail marijuana store. Committee Member Bob Sivertsen, who is a Ketchikan City Council member, spoke in favor of the idea.
“That gives you control,” he said. “You can control the products, quantities, you can do all kinds of things. But then, you don’t have to try to track the taxes. As a matter of fact, we don’t tax ourselves, so we keep the price, you gain the money off the revenue of the sales and hopefully stave off the black market or gray market issue.”
The idea wasn’t supported by other committee members, however. They say they prefer to let the free market fill that need.
The next Ketchikan Marijuana Advisory Committee meeting is set for Aug. 24. That might change, however, if the committee can arrange to meet the previous week with the director of the state agency that is handling marijuana regulations.