Anchorage voters to decide on commercial pot smoking


The Anchorage Assembly debated, deliberated, and decided last night that it will be up to voters to say if pot retailers can offer pot smoking rooms in the city limits.

Over a dozen people testified during Tuesday night’s regular Assembly meeting. Those testifying in favor of allowing a public vote on the matter were primarily those representing the cannabis trade.

They argued that people who don’t own their own homes often can’t smoke in their rental units, and so there are two classes of citizens — some who can smoke in their own homes. and some who have no place to smoke but in their cars. They said tourists need places to smoke pot legally. And they argued that people who work in marijuana establishments already are smoking pot, and are accepting the risks associated with their work.

Speaking against sending it to the voters were those concerned with public health and who said the voters already overwhelmingly chose to make Anchorage a smoke-free city.

“As one of the sponsors of the secondhand smoke ordinance, I can’t believe you want to do this again,” said Dick Traini, a former Assembly member who testified against the proposal. “As an asthmatic, I can tell you smoke is smoke, and affects you just the same. The last time we looked at this [Anchorage secondhand smoke ordinance], 70 percent of Anchorage voters said they wanted to keep it,” he said, referring to the Anchorage smoking ban.

Former Assembly member Eric Croft also spoke against the proposal to have a popular vote, saying it’s a step backward in public health, will lead to more driving under the influence. He argued that Anchorage doesn’t have to be “first” in the move toward pot smoking establishments.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Government Relations Director Emily Nenon said the ordinance would create a new class of employees who are not protected from secondhand smoke: “No one should have to choose between their job and their health,” she said.

Although the testimony went heavily against sending the matter to voters, most Assembly members said that pot smoking is different enough from tobacco smoking, and that the public will want a say in the matter.

Voting in favor of sending it to the ballot in April were Assembly members John Weddleton, Meg Zaletel, Forrest Dunbar, Felix Rivera, Pete Petersen, Christopher Constant, and Austin Quinn-Davidson. Against it were Crystal Kennedy, Kameron Perez-Verdia, and Fred Dyson.

The next municipal election ends on April 7, 2020, but because mail-in ballots are the voting method in Anchorage, the election starts a month earlier in March.


  1. This is the funniest damn thing I’ve read in a long time. Go ahead let em open up their opium dens. Ahhh, the poor tourist don’t have anywhere to smoke their dope. That’s just so sad right there. With the state of the sidewalks and street corners that Anchorage is in right now, covered in human waste and infected needles and people that look like they came right off the set of The walking Dead, I don’t know why anybody would want to be a tourist in Anchorage. The place has turned into a hole.

  2. Well, if someone applies for a job at an establishment that either allows smoking or is strictly FOR smoking (whether pot or tobacco), if you have a problem with smoke, then for pete’s sake don’t apply for a job there! That’s just common sense. (If you have any issue with what goes on at an establishment, then don’t apply for the job.)
    I know there are those who say pot isn’t any worse than alcohol, and there are drinking establishments, so why shouldn’t there be pot-smoking establishments. I’ll tell you why…pot is NOT like alcohol. For one thing, most people (excepting those who are of the type of alcoholic for whom even one drink will put them in black-out), can have a drink or two with no drunkenness or other ill effects. The whole point of smoking pot is to get high, and with today’s pot being having a higher THC content* than it did twenty years ago, you will get high when you smoke it and you will be a danger to others when you drive, without a doubt. Yeah, yeah…I know those of you who drive drunk or high think your driving isn’t impaired, but I challenge you to get on a closed course and be filmed sober, then get high and be filmed on the same course and see how things change. You’re not as safe a driver as you think you are, and it only takes one mishap to get someone (or several someones) permanently maimed or killed. Are you REALLY so selfish about your “rights” that you’re willing to take the chance of murdering someone? Yes, I said “murder”, because that’s exactly what it is when you know that it’s illegal to drive under the influence and you do it anyway and someone dies because of you.

    *”THC content has spiked from 3.7% to more than 20% — and some cannabis concentrates contain close to 100% THC”

  3. Then we’ll nail their butt with vehicular homicide and will also charge the establishment with getting them too high and allowing them to drive just like we would a bar. And if they’re going to walk home high then we’ll get them for being high in public just like drunk in public. So yeah bring it on.

  4. I’m definitely not anti-pot, but I don’t support this. I presume most employers don’t want their employees to be under the influence of anything while they’re on the job (what they do on their free time is their business as long as it doesn’t affect their on-the-job performance). Are pot shop employees going to be exposed to the second-hand pot smoke and potentially getting high from this? Aren’t these pot shop employees expected to screen the customers for age and impairment? Can they do that effectively if they’re impaired?

  5. I do not understand this entire stupid idea of needing a place for people to get high! They are not addressing the big deal here. How do they think these people are going to get home after they load up?? Yeah they are gonna jump in their cars, get on a highway and kill someone because they are impaired. It is a DUI if you are pulled over and they find your high. In any of these articles they do not even talk about this and I do not understand. I use cannabis daily for pain. I do not do it period when I drive. Ever. All this is going to do is cause more accidents, more deaths due to impaired drivers and eventually put a big black eye on legal cannabis. This is not alcohol in a bar. It’s weed. It is totally different. I haven’t heard one word of ‘designated drivers’. I do not think this is a good idea at all.

    • Even though weed is technically legal as long as you follow the law, having it in your possession where an officer can smell it in your car gives them probable cause to search your car and have you do a sobriety test. They may find other things that could be illegal so it opens the door for you possibly to get into trouble.

  6. Anchorage’s weed is pretty terrible and edibles are a joke. I have to hub there and it would be nice not to smoke outside around the human filth known as street walkers. Pot does not impair all people equally, but I believe the government will have to consider the turds when deciding what is best for all people.

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