FAIRBANKS — A ballot question going before North Pole voters, if approved, would prevent the City Council from overturning a ban on marijuana companies.
The council approved the ballot question at its July 16 meeting, according to the North Pole clerk. It’s one of four ballot questions that North Pole voters will face at the Oct. 2 election.
In 2016, North Pole voters outlawed cannabis businesses within the city’s 4 square miles. By law, the City Council has the power to reverse that ban after two years. With the two-year anniversary nearing, another petition was in the works when North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward decided to act.
Ward said the new petition was a bit late for the 2018 election, so he sponsored a resolution.
The new ballot question goes a step further than the question decided by the voters in 2016. It writes the marijuana business ban into the city charter. That way, the ban cannot be repealed by the City Council. Only the voters could undo it.
Ward, a candidate for Fairbanks North Star Borough mayor, said he supports the state law allowing communities to opt out of legal marijuana sales. He doesn’t use marijuana, nor does he object to its safe adult use, he said.
“I have no problem sponsoring something to go to the voters to give them the opportunity to weigh in on it,” Ward said. “I support the right for the city to choose.”
North Pole was the only area municipality to forbid marijuana companies in its jurisdiction. The vote at the 2016 election was 158 in favor of the ban and 98 opposed.
Voters in Fairbanks and in the portion of the borough outside the two cities had the opportunity to ban marijuana businesses with questions on the 2017 ballots. They were defeated by a ratio of about 2-1.
The three other questions bound for the North Pole ballot this year are largely housekeeping measures, according to Ward.
One question allows the City Council to extend the deadline of the city’s annual audit.
Another question removes the accounts receivable/utility billing clerk and the accounts payable/receptionist as positions appointed by the mayor.
The fourth ballot question deals with initiatives by petition. It states that rules for the initiative process in North Pole shall follow state law.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMborough.