Alaska Marijuana News

Lawsuit challenges Mat-Su ballot initiative that could ban commercial pot

Two people filed a lawsuit last week against the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and 15 individuals over the citizen's initiative on the Oct. 4 ballot that could ban marijuana businesses in the borough, calling it "unconstitutional."

Thomas Hannam and Ronda Marcy filed the lawsuit in Palmer. They're asserting that the proposition bypasses state statutes, exceeds the borough's zoning powers and is unconstitutional and unenforceable. They want the initiative removed from the ballot.

If passed, the commercial marijuana ban would apply to all areas outside of the borough's cities. Palmer and Wasilla have already decided to ban commercial cannabis. If the ban passes in October, the city of Houston may be the only place in the vast Mat-Su Borough where commercial pot will be legal. The prohibition wouldn't apply to businesses involving industrial hemp.

Nick Spiropoulos, attorney for the Mat-Su Borough, said the borough had just been served with the suit on Tuesday and couldn't yet comment on it.

The Mat-Su Borough already has a moratorium on marijuana businesses, in effect through Oct. 19, until after a vote on the initiative.

Marcy and Hannam are representing themselves in the lawsuit. They've asked for the suit to be expedited because the vote is less than a month away.

Hannam has purchased property and developed it for marijuana businesses, and Marcy has invested in developing some of her property for marijuana business, according to the lawsuit.


"My goal here was for a fair election process," said Marcy, who has started an application with the state for a Wasilla marijuana cultivation business called Marcy Wellness Center. "And I don't believe what we had or have with the borough has done that."

The 15 individuals named as defendants in the lawsuit all sponsored the commercial marijuana ban initiative, the suit says.

The Oct. 4 ballot also includes a question to voters about approving a sales tax of up to 5 percent on retail marijuana products.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.