A vote on Tuesday might mark a sea of change for the cannabis business of local communities in Alaska—and might place pot bans within those areas for the foreseeable future.
As reported by the Associated Press, voters in two of the state’s major pot cultivation districts will decide on whether growers and other pot-related business owners will continue to operate. Hypothetically, if the vote goes through, ceasing said operations could put denizens out of work and disrupt the supply chain in the state to disastrous proportions.
The decision could mark a major regression concerning full legalization in the state and might set a precedent for other Alaskan communities to do the same.
The potential pot bans won’t simply affect the status of legalization alone: The vote has growers and business-owners alike highly concerned about their futures and the economy of Alaska at large. Some, like grower Mike Emers, see the initiative as a betrayal.
“On a moral basis, it’s disingenuous,” Emers told reporters. “To have the rug pulled out from under us once the ball is rolling seems incredibly unfair.”
This isn’t the first time legalized states have faced similar backlash. In 2014—the same year Alaska voted for full legalization—residents in Oregon attempted to enact similar prohibitions. Even in Colorado, a state considered the bastion of full legalization, more than one hundred communities, more or less, did the same.
Final Hit: Alaskan Communities Weigh Pot Bans
Supporters of the pot bans contend that while it is important to recognize state-wide legalization legislation, it should be up to locals as to whether they want cannabis businesses within their communities or not.
“The voters have a right to decide important questions like this, and when they get ignored and the neighborhoods aren’t being protected by their local government, whose job it is to do that, someone needs to step up and say, ‘Listen, this is wrong, and we need to fix it,'” said James Ostlind, who operates as the chairman of an initiative group advocating for these pot bans, in an interview with the press.
Others like Leif Abel, the owner of the Greatland Ganja growing enterprise, is more confident that the vote will turn in his favor and growers like him.
“This is the last dying throes of prohibition,” Abel stated, alluding to shifting American cultural attitudes surrounding pot and its production, especially within the state.
“Even if some of these folks don’t admit it to themselves…the real reason that they still want to prohibit marijuana is they don’t want to accept a certain segment of society in the mainstream.”