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Kenai town hall meeting on marijuana set for Tuesday

  • Author: Suzanna Caldwell
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published December 11, 2014

A group of Kenai Peninsula citizens interested in airing concerns over legalized marijuana ahead of any move on the part of local lawmakers to regulate cannabis plan to meet next week to discuss future steps.

Soldotna trial attorney Eric Derleth announced he would be hosting a town hall meeting to allow participants with differing views to discuss the impacts of marijuana legalization. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Kenai Central High School.

Derleth hopes the Kenai Community Coalition on Cannabis can start the conversation on possible marijuana regulations in the region. In a draft agenda, Derleth hopes to address an ethics code as well as provide information on legalization and give community members a chance to speak.

Derleth, who describes himself as a "lifelong Alaskan, trial lawyer and responsible cannabis consumer," was a vocal advocate for Ballot Measure 2, the initiative legalizing marijuana in Alaska. The initiative passed with 53 percent of Alaskans in favor, though much of the Kenai Peninsula opposed the measure by a slim margin.

Derleth, who expressed concerns about local lawmakers challenging the initiative before any regulations are drafted, said he would continue stand up to people going against the "will of the voters" in his community.

"The gloves are off," he said in an interview Wednesday.

But Derleth also said he hoped the meeting will ease concerns over marijuana legalization and promote discussion about safety, as well as making sure the intent of the legislation is honored.

He thinks it's important that small communities begin discussing legalization, especially in the face of challenges from local politicians. One Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member has already indicated he plans to introduce an ordinance that would control marijuana farms in the borough. The Anchorage Assembly will be hearing public testimony the same night as those attending the Kenai town hall meeting to address an ordinance that would ban commercial marijuana facilities in the municipality.

Derleth said he's heard from about 20 people interested in attending the meeting. The Kenai coalition will meet again, though how often will be decided at the Tuesday's meeting, he said.