Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2016
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Laurel Andrews


A new group has popped up in opposition to a ballot measure that 
would ban commercial cannabis in Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Borough 
if approved by voters in October.

M ThunderFund Inc. - a play on the infamous Alaska marijuana strain - 
filed independent expenditure reports with the state Wednesday in 
support of a campaign dubbed "Save The Mat-Su."

The company, owned by Tel White and Peter Zell, was created to oppose 
local marijuana bans, first in the Mat-Su, but also in other parts of 
Alaska and the U.S., White said Thursday.

"If we can be successful here, I'm hoping we can be successful in 
other areas as well," White said.

In June, initiative sponsors raised nearly 2,000 signatures to put 
the commercial marijuana moratorium on the October ballot. The ban 
would apply to growers, retail stores, manufacturers and testing facilities.

Although the borough is already informally known as Alaska's 
cannabis-producing capital, voters residing in the borough rejected 
the initiative that legalized commercial cannabis statewide in 2014.

"We have an uphill battle to fight," White said.

The cities of Palmer and Wasilla have already placed bans on 
commercial marijuana. Should the October ban be approved by voters, 
the cannabis-friendly city of Houston would be the only place within 
the borough where the industry is legal.

"Our strategy is awareness and reaching out to as many people as we 
can," White said.

Mat-Su residents can expect to see TV ads and volunteers engaging in 
grass-roots efforts to spread the campaign's cause, White said.

He has no intention of opening a marijuana business, White said, but 
he has been offered an employee position in a friend's business, 
should Mat-Su cannabis businesses be allowed to move forward.

White's business partner at M Thunderfund, Zell, does plan to open a 
cannabis business, he said, if the ban fails.

So far, the campaign has listed $5,000 in contributions, half of 
which are from Zell. The other $2,500 comes from Wasilla's Bailey 
Stuart, co-owner of Green Jar cannabis dispensary, which is in the 
midst of applying for a state license.

The campaign has also listed about $7,000 in debt, for campaign 
advertisements, fliers and T-shirts.

Mat-Su voters will decide whether to ban commercial marijuana on Oct. 
4 - they'll also vote whether to tax it, should the ban fail.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom