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City Council votes not to allow marijuana on the spit

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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The Homer City Council voted down an ordinance that would allow commercial marijuana facilities to operate on private property on the Homer Spit.

Council member Heath Smith strongly opposed the measure. He worried whether allowing marijuana retailers on the spit would lead to tourists consuming marijuana publicly.  

“No, we're not going to stop anyone from using it,” Smith said. “But we can sure as heck send a message that we're not going to be complicit in the illegal use of it in certain areas of our town.”

Council member Rachel Lord pushed back against Smith’s argument.  

"I feel as though that line of reasoning is kind of is a false sense of control over the situation, the idea that we have some semblance of control over what is going to happen with legal pot—we don't," she said. 

Lord and others emphasized the fact that marijuana is legal in Alaska.

Council member Donna Aderhold said, “The bottom line is that the state voted to legalize marijuana and our Homer residents voted to legalize marijuana and so I'm going to support the voters.”

But both Council members Shelly Erickson and Tom Stroozas wanted to wait on the vote. Erikson was worried that allowing commercial marijuana on the spit could deter federal funding, and Stroozas wanted to see how Homer’s first retail marijuana shop, Uncle Herb’s operates, once it opens its doors.

“And perhaps, because this is such a controversial issue to have retail on the Homer spit, which is, you know our family place, it’s Homer’s Disney World, for lack of a better term, perhaps maybe we should postpone this ordinance to another date, like indefinitely,” Stroozas said.

A handful of Homer residents gave public testimony, and most were against the measure, though there were a few vocal proponents. Resident’s comments ranged from the argument that having retail marijuana in town is enough to testifying that there are legal places for tourists to consume on the spit, such as RVs. The council split its vote with Smith, Erickson, and Stroozas voting no. Mayor Bryan Zak broke the tie by voting against the ordinance.

Later in the meeting, the council also voted to disband the Cannabis Advisory Commission. Council member Aderhold said the council should handle all cannabis-related issues moving forward.

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