The Mat-Su Borough Assembly postponed a vote on an ordinance to regulate marijuana cultivation and retail sales in the Borough Tuesday night. Introduced by Assembly member Jim Sykes, Ordinance MSB 17.60 was supposed to be voted on Tuesday night by the Assembly, but instead they voted to postpone that vote until Tuesday, March 15.
Although the Assembly didn’t take any action on the marijuana ordinance, they did take public testimony from a full audience.
The only opposition to the ordinance was from former Borough mayor Larry DeVilbiss, who handpicked the 17-member marijuana advisory committee that wrote Ordinance MSB 17.60.
“My contention is, there is a voter initiative this fall. And I would like you to consider holding permits on commercial marijuana until after that election,” DeVilbiss said. “If the voters approve this fall, fine.”
The voter initiative the former mayor is referring to is a Borough opt-out vote in October. DeVilbiss sponsored the city legislation banning pot sales in Palmer, and has been an outspoken supporter for hemp.
Marijuana advisory committee member Savaughn Dushane said DeVilbiss set-up the board to fail.
“When the MAC was first set up, it sounded like a good idea,” Dushane said. “But we had 17-members, so from the beginning the board was set-up to fail.”
“The real question is,” Dushane continues, “who has a vested interest in hemp in the Valley? Who owns the most farmable land who can benefit from being able to cultivate hemp? Larry DeVilbiss, that’s who.”
Miles France, fourth generation Valley resident, isn’t waiting around for the vote in October or for the Assembly’s vote.
“I’ve got my cultivation application in and I’m ready to go,” France told the Assembly. “I just ask that the Borough not add any restrictions on the marijuana industry.”
Clint Tuma of Willow, and owner of Evergreen Marijuana Producers, told the Assembly the same thing – that he isn’t waiting.
“I have a facility. I’ve sent my application in. I’m ready to go,” Tuma said. “I bought my building in October 2015. It’s 2,500 square feet. And I built it exactly to the specifications and requirements of the state.”
The message to the M/V Borough Assembly was clear: MatSu wants commercial marijuana. From the jobs to the tax revenue, testifiers urged Assembly members to give the marijuana industry a chance.
“Turn us loose and let us give it a try because it’s a good money making operation,” Tuma said.