Marijuana advocates ramp up campaign before Mat-Su election

Published: Sep. 29, 2016 at 9:32 PM AKDT
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There’s less than a week before a borough election in the Mat-Su and a group of marijuana advocates were busy waving signs Thursday in Palmer reminding people that there is one.

“We’ve got over 100,000 people in the borough and the last borough election less than 10 percent showed up,” said Tina Smith, president of the Mat-Su Valley Cannabis Association.

But the group of people waving signs were there were also urging residents to vote ‘no’ for one particular proposition.

“Say no to prohibition,” yelled smith, waving a sign as a driver drove by honking.

That would be prop one, an initiative banning the marijuana industry in unincorporated areas of the Mat-Su Borough.

The industry is already prohibited in Palmer and Wasilla but now some people don’t want it allowed in areas outside of city limits.

Houston already voted to keep the industry there.

“It’s been two years, people are starting to see that it’s not as scary as they first thought,” said Smith. “There is actually some good from it, you can get taxes from it, it’s regulated, you’re diverting away from the black market.”

A ‘yes’ vote on prop one would prohibit it.

“We would like to say ‘yes’ to avoiding addiction,” said Pastor Steve Alexander.

Alexander worries marijuana will lead to harsher drugs, like heroin. He believes the youth are especially vulnerable if it’s made more easily accessible.

“We don’t know how many youth will slide into heroin because they got started with pot on the playground, some will and one’s too many,” Alexander said.

But Smith disagrees, she says the marijuana industry would be regulated.

“The big fear is children getting it and per regulations you can’t be under 21 years old and go into an establishment, any establishment at any time,” Smith says.

“One of the things that the marijuana enthusiast say is ‘well anyone over 21, adults will only be able to do it’ well that’s clearly not the case with nicotine now,” Alexander said.

Voters will have five days to make up their own mind.

“I think righteousness is going to win,” said Alexander.

“I am very optimistic about Tuesday,” Smith said.

The borough election is October 4th, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters will also decide on a 5 percent marijuana sales tax if prop one fails.

Also on the ballot is a vote on a $22 million parks and recreational facilities capital improvement bond.

That will go towards upgrades for pools, trails, an ice arena and outdoor ice rinks.