A new group has popped up in opposition to a ballot measure that would ban commercial cannabis in Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Borough if approved by voters in October.
M ThunderFund Inc. — a play on the infamous Alaska marijuana strain — filed independent expenditure reports with the state Wednesday in support of a campaign dubbed "Save The Mat-Su."
The company, owned by Tel White and Peter Zell, was created to oppose local marijuana bans, first in the Mat-Su, but also in other parts of Alaska and the U.S., White said Thursday.
"If we can be successful here, I'm hoping we can be successful in other areas as well," White said.
In June, initiative sponsors raised nearly 2,000 signatures to put the commercial marijuana moratorium on the October ballot. The ban would apply to growers, retail stores, manufacturers and testing facilities.
Although the borough is already informally known as Alaska's cannabis-producing capital, voters residing in the borough rejected the initiative that legalized commercial cannabis statewide in 2014.
"We have an uphill battle to fight," White said.
The cities of Palmer and Wasilla have already placed bans on commercial marijuana. Should the October ban be approved by voters, the cannabis-friendly city of Houston would be the only place within the borough where the industry is legal.
"Our strategy is awareness and reaching out to as many people as we can," White said.
Mat-Su residents can expect to see TV ads and volunteers engaging in grass-roots efforts to spread the campaign's cause, White said.
He has no intention of opening a marijuana business, White said, but he has been offered an employee position in a friend's business, should Mat-Su cannabis businesses be allowed to move forward.
White's business partner at M Thunderfund, Zell, does plan to open a cannabis business, he said, if the ban fails.
So far, the campaign has listed $5,000 in contributions, half of which are from Zell. The other $2,500 comes from Wasilla's Bailey Stuart, co-owner of Green Jar cannabis dispensary, which is in the midst of applying for a state license.
The campaign has also listed about $7,000 in debt, for campaign advertisements, fliers and T-shirts.
Mat-Su voters will decide whether to ban commercial marijuana on Oct. 4 — they'll also vote whether to tax it, should the ban fail.