Pubdate: Wed, 24 Sep 2014
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Contact:  2014 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Authors: Suzanna Caldwell,Devin Kelly


The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday voted 9-2 to approve a resolution 
opposing a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in Alaska.

The resolution, introduced Friday by Assemblyman Dick Traini, cited 
potential pitfalls of legalization in Alaska including conflicts with 
marijuana enforcement at the federal level, the safety of edibles 
products with regard to children, and costs related to schools and 
law enforcement.

On Tuesday night, two other Assemblymen, Paul Honeman and Tim Steele, 
signed on as co-sponsors of the measure.

Assembly Chair Patrick Flynn and Northeast Anchorage Assemblyman Pete 
Petersen cast the "no" votes. Both said they did not feel the 
Assembly should be taking a stance on ballot initiatives.

Members of the Assembly who voted "yes" on the resolution echoed 
Flynn's and Petersen's concerns.

"I'm generally a bit troubled by us taking positions on ballot 
measures," Assembly member Bill Evans said. An Assembly vote, he 
added, "really does not have anything behind it other than (a) poll 
of our own personal attitudes."

In a release before the vote Tuesday, the Campaign to Regulate 
Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska objected to a resolution, saying 
Traini "colluded" with the opposition campaign on the measure. "Yes" 
campaign political director Chris Rempert called the Assembly's 
decision to vote on the resolution "wildly premature" given members 
held no work sessions or public hearings on the item. Rempert also 
criticized some of the points made in the resolution as lacking 
context or misstating facts.

After the vote, Rempert expressed frustrations over perceived 
lobbying of Assembly members by the "no" campaign.

"The voters of Anchorage deserve better, " Rempert said in an emailed 
statement. "(Traini) has touted the need for transparency in 
government, but it appears he's OK with keeping Anchorage voters in 
the dark if he believes it will benefit him politically."

In a phone interview before the meeting, Traini said the resolution 
was included as part of the Assembly's "consent agenda," which 
doesn't involve public testimony.

Flynn also said in a pre-meeting interview that the absence of work 
sessions or public hearings is typical for a resolution, which does 
not deal with the allocation of money.

The resolution was reviewed by the city's ethics board. On the 
recommendation of the board, Traini said, language was removed urging 
people to cast a "no" vote on the ballot measure in November.

Traini said the resolution, drafted by Assembly attorney Julia Tucker 
after she spoke with attorneys in Colorado, is simply a gauge of the 
11-member body's stance on the issue.

"My theory is if we had public comment, we would have what we had 
with (the city labor law), AO-37, where you would have nights of 
people saying 'I'm right; no, I'm right,' " Traini said. "It's just 
easier to let the Assembly decide."

Traini is a volunteer member of the Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote 
No on 2 campaign coordinating committee. He also donated $100 to the 
campaign in July.

Honeman said Tuesday night he plans to approach the Vote No on 2 
campaign to offer his volunteer services as well.

A spokesman for the Vote No on 2 campaign said after the vote Tuesday 
that the campaign was pleased with the Assembly resolution. It was 
the latest in a series of government entities, including the cities 
of Ketchikan and Haines and the Bristol Bay Borough, to come out in 
opposition to the measure.

"We're excited that the Anchorage Assembly sees what we believe most 
Alaskans are seeing: that Outside interests should not be telling 
Alaskans how to vote for marijuana," said the spokesman, Charles Fedullo.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom