A prohibitionist was recently appointed to the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. Her name, Vivian Stiver.
Some may remember Stiver from her failed propositions to ban cannabis access within the city of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2017. During the election, she boasted on her Facebook page that she would “be out here when I am 90” to fight against cannabis. Luckily, the public spoke loud and clear with 70 percent of voters in favor of legal cannabis access in the region. Even after an overwhelming vote against her campaign, Stiver continued her fight against the will of the Alaska people. Stiver can be heard undermining the industry with absolute falsehoods at city and borough meetings since the vote. In these meetings, Stiver will repeat these lies about the industry as if they were fact.
Stiver now claims to have educated herself, but many of these meetings happened a few months ago during the on-site consumption discussions. Moreover, these are public record for anybody to listen to, and in short, her views have not changed. I reached out to Stiver myself recently and asked her numerous times throughout the conversation on how she has educated herself and what she plans to accomplish on the board. She avoided these questions at every turn. Stiver insists she is the voice for the public but is unwilling to engage with those she claims to represent. Ignoring the opposite view is nothing new for Stiver. This tactic was used when the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association reached out to her group during the election. Instead of working with the other side, the request was ignored and went as far as deleting the message from their Facebook page.
Throughout the 2017 campaign, Stiver and her followers can be heard screaming about the devastation that the cannabis industry will bring to Fairbanks. Over two years in business and not a single exaggeration her group used has come true. Instead, legal cannabis continues to deliver safe access, $1 million in yearly city tax revenue, and hundreds of jobs just within Fairbanks. Cannabis has had, and will continue to have, a positive impact in Fairbanks and the state of Alaska if given a real chance.
The industry wants the prospect to follow through with its election promises of more jobs, increased state and city tax revenues, and limiting black market transactions. With Stiver’s appointment to the marijuana board, the exact opposite will happen at the expense of hundreds of Alaskans who put their life savings into this industry and a thousand more who depend on it to put food on their family’s table. It is important to note that the cannabis industry is the only industry in Alaska that is 100 percent owned by Alaskans, further diversifying our economy.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and our representatives should hold themselves to a higher standard of appointing and approving members who truly educate themselves in the area in which they will be leading. Stiver has proved she is far from educated on the industry, let alone cannabis itself. The board needs someone who understands what it takes to promote the legal cannabis market instead of ideas that prop up the illegal black market as she has done many times in the past.
One thing should be clear: There is nothing wrong with an appointment of a member who will question and challenge the cannabis industry; that will only make the industry stronger. However, someone with the personal animosity and a documented history of intentionally spreading misinformation to push her agenda is not the person for the people of Alaska or this expanding industry. The board needs someone educated on the industry, not an extreme prohibitionist who was unwilling to engage with the industry itself when it was needed most.
With many failed political campaigns and failed propositions, Vivian Stiver’s only option is to erode this productive industry from the inside. Her public record speaks for itself, and it is a poor record at best. Are the citizens of Alaska willing to take away the freedom of safe, legal access from their friends, family and neighbors while giving up millions in state and city tax revenues by having a known prohibitionist on the Marijuana Control Board? I sure hope not.
Please write your representatives to tell them Vivian Stiver and her views do not represent the majority of Alaskans and that she is a bad choice to lead the cannabis industry into the future. Also, visit facebook.com/protectaccessfairbanks to sign the petition to remove Stiver as the nominee.
Shaun Huot manages a vertically integrated cannabis business in Fairbanks and is the founder of Protect Cannabis Access-Alaska, which aims to educate the public about cannabis.