Fairbanks city council delays onsite marijuana use ordinance

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Fairbanks City Council has delayed an ordinance allowing onsite consumption at retail marijuana stores so preparations can be made for a ballot measure to let voters decide the issue, officials said.

    The council's vote was 4-2 on Monday to postpone passage of the regulation permitting use at approved locations within the city limits, the Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

    The current Fairbanks ordinance prohibits onsite consumption at stores "even if authorized by state law," the newspaper reported.

    The council is scheduled to revisit the subject at its April 22 meeting, the newspaper reported.

    Councilors approved the postponement to give them time to draft a substitute ordinance creating a ballot measure for October's general election that would leave the question of on-site consumption to voters, the newspaper reported.

    "It belongs in the laps of people. But if you make me decide, and not postpone, I will be deciding in favor of the police," said Fairbanks Councilman Jerry Cleworth, referring to police opposition to the measure.

    Fairbanks driving under the influence arrests rose from 182 to 282 between 2016 and 2018, according to Deputy Police Chief Dan Welborn. He did not know how many involved drugs or alcohol alone, or the two combined.

    At least one councilor criticized the connection between DUI arrests and retail site consumption.

    "Some of these dire predictions about people getting too stoned on one gram, hopping in their car and driving, I find frankly to be insulting," said Councilwoman Kathryn Ottersten, an ordinance co-sponsor.

    The council also debated whether onsite consumption would go against its 2017 resolution supporting smoke-free workplaces, which became state law in 2018.

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