Earlier this week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly adopted regulations for permitting marijuana retail and cultivation operations.
On Tuesday, the Borough Assembly changed the proposed regulations that have been in the works for over half a year. Various versions of the proposed rules went through both the borough’s marijuana advisory committee and the borough planning commission.
One issue that had raised concerns amongst potential operators of cannabis operations was the imposition of setback requirements. Initial wording included setbacks that would require a buffer of 500 feet from all public parks and boat ramps. That went beyond the state’s requirements, and would render some areas, such as all of Downtown Talkeetna, ineligible for a borough marijuana permit.
The new wording maintains restrictions around schools, churches, and correctional facilities. In addition a 500-foot setback is required around “recreation or youth centers.” In the ordninance, those are defined as facilities specifically geared toward minors. It represents a narrower definition than the previous one, which excluded all public parks.
Additionally, the borough assembly removed the cap of 5,000 square feet for cultivation facilities that was in a previous version of the ordinance. The removal of that restriction came at the advice of the marijuana advisory committee. In arguing for the removal, Assembly Member Jim Sykes says that the existing setbacks, including the 100 foot buffer required from any lot lines, meant that the size restriction would not be necessary, especially for operations on large lots.
Aspects of the permit process that did not change include requirements for security measures and odor control.
For most areas, the permitting requirements are still contingent on a ballot issue on this October’s borough ballot. This year’s borough election will determine whether or not marijuana businesses of any kind are allowed in the unincorporated areas of the Valley. Thus far, only the City of Houston has opted to allow commercial marijuana. Wasilla and Palmer have both voted not to permit commercial sale or growing of cannabis.