Alaska Marijuana News

Home-use only but no homemade brownies: Wasilla to consider marijuana law

WASILLA -- A proposed ordinance to be introduced at the Wasilla City Council meeting next week would make it illegal to use marijuana anywhere but at home -- and it could be outlawed there as well if it disturbs the neighbors.

The ordinance would also set limits on the amount of marijuana in one household or vehicle and could ban cooking edible products including baked goods like brownies in the kitchen.

Ordinance sponsor Stu Graham, a council member elected last fall, suggested the changes to clarify legal gray areas in what he called Alaska's "poorly written" initiative.

The state's voters in November passed the initiative that legalizes limited personal possession and transport of recreational marijuana as of Feb. 24. The state has nine months after that date to set guidelines for marijuana growers, retail outlets and testing companies.

Graham said his proposal serves to simplify enforcement for the city's 52 police officers because state law isn't clear, particularly when it comes to household limits and enforcing the amount of marijuana in baked goods like cookies.

"Since voters inside Wasilla did not vote for this initiative, we want to make sure we're kind of holding the line with where we are now, which doesn't prevent you from having edibles in your house. It prevents you from making edibles," Graham said Thursday.

Wasilla's proposed ordinance is scheduled for introduction Monday night. That's when the council will decide whether to approve it for public hearing on Feb. 23, when the council could also act on the legislation. The hearing would come a day before legalization.

Wasilla residents within city limits voted against Ballot Measure 2 -- the marijuana initiative -- by a roughly 4 percent margin, according to Mayor Bert Cottle. As a whole, voters in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough also narrowly voted against legalization, but those in Palmer and Houston supported it.

The borough and other cities have taken no official stance on regulating pot locally.

As proposed, the ordinance would prohibit manufacturing edible products from marijuana as well as concentrates or extracts.

It would also limit a "domicile" to maximum possession of 2 ounces of marijuana and put the same limit on the amount legal per vehicle to transport within the city. The state initiative allows 1 ounce per person but doesn't set a total household or transport limit.

Wasilla's proposed ordinance would allow marijuana use inside a residence only. It demands any marijuana use that disturbs other residents -- or neighbors -- "must cease immediately." No definition of "disturb" is specified.

The state law bans consuming marijuana in public but doesn't define what constitutes a public place.

The proposed ordinance classifies any offenses as criminal violations. It calls for a $100 fine for violations of possession, transport or use offenses and a $300 fine for a manufacturing offense. Each full ounce would constitute a separate violation.

There is a section for local control in the state's new marijuana law, though many municipalities seem to be waiting to see what regulations come out of the Alaska Legislature this session.

The Anchorage Assembly late last month passed a ban on public consumption and later this month will consider a ban on extracting marijuana concentrates with flammable solvents without permission from authorities. Juneau's Assembly this week defined public places where marijuana can't be used to include streets and sidewalks, schools, businesses and common areas of public or private buildings.

North Pole's mayor has proposed making marijuana use illegal outside the home. Ketchikan's Assembly voted Monday to wait until the legislative session ends in April before acting on a potential commercial ban. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider a ban on marijuana farms on Feb. 24, the day personal consumption becomes legal.