Anchorage Assembly to reconsider marijuana land use rules

Anchorage marijuana regulations could get a makeover only two weeks after their final passage by the Anchorage Assembly, potentially revising the 500-foot distance marijuana businesses must be from sensitive areas and how that distance is measured.

The Assembly will hold a meeting on Feb. 23 to reconsider its marijuana land use ordinance, which established zoning regulations for cannabis businesses including setbacks from schools. The Assembly will not take public comments, as they are not required for ordinance reconsideration.

Assembly member Patrick Flynn called for reconsideration after noticing inconsistencies between an amendment he passed and those introduced by Assembly member Amy Demboski.

“One amendment defined distance based on pedestrian routes from front door to front door, the other based on lot lines,” said Flynn. “We as a policy making body need to come up with a final answer so that we can resolve that incongruity and give clear direction to zoning.”

On Feb. 9, Anchorage tightened certain regulations while holding off on others. Among other restrictions, the new regulations redrafted the measurement standard between marijuana businesses and sensitive areas.

The Assembly narrowly approved a 500-foot separation distance from schools, which halved the earlier proposed 1,000-foot separation. However, that distance is no longer measured by the shortest pedestrian route, but “as the crow flies,” from property line to property line instead of from entrance to entrance.

As a result, many businesses’ previously selected retail and cultivation buildings became illegal overnight. Industry panic ensued.

Flynn said he’d been contacted by several people in the marijuana industry whose buildings ride the line of legally and illegally placed; one business planner’s building would be just less than 500 feet from the nearest school by shortest pedestrian route, but just more than 500 feet if measured by lot line. Cannabis business attorney Jana Weltzin said the Assembly’s actions made three clients’ buildings illegal.

Demboski and Assembly chairman Dick Traini did not respond to calls for comment.

DJ Summers can be reached at [email protected].


02/17/2016 - 4:20pm