City pot board tables tax, license discussions

After nearly recommending an 8 percent tax on marijuana sales for Assembly consideration, the City and Borough of Juneau Marijuana Committee decided instead to table the matter at its meeting Thursday.

The committee members all seemed to favor the idea of an 8 percent sales tax, which mirrors that imposed on alcohol. Several committee members, including Debbie White, expressed fears that taxing marijuana sales too high would drive prices up and force people back to the black market.

“I would really caution us against getting greedy on the taxes,” White said. She explained that she has family in Seattle, Washington, and said that the black market is thriving there for this reason. “The people who voted for this said treat marijuana like alcohol. We have an 8 percent tax on alcohol, and I’m comfortable with that.”

All other committee members, including committee chair Jesse Kiehl, seemed to share White’s sentiment. Kiehl has expressed his fear several times already about making decisions that will push people back into the black market, and he made the point again Thursday.

“Ultimately we’re Americans, and we like a bargain, so if you can get it cheaper, people often do,” Kiehl said.

Though committee members seemed to agree on the 8 percent sales tax, they were unsure about how the city should levy the tax. They asked City Attorney Amy Mead to explore their options and report back to the committee at it’s next meeting in November.

The committee also tabled discussion regarding whether the city should require licenses specifically for marijuana businesses. On this topic, the committee was split. Some members argued that requiring city licenses specific to marijuana businesses would increase the city’s ability to regulate the industry. If businesses failed to comply with code, the city could pull their licenses, the pro-license contingent of the committee said. Kiehl and fellow committee member Mary Becker stood on this side of the issue.

“It seems to me that it would be easier if you have a license to pull than to take them to court,” Becker said.

Other committee members, however, argued that requiring an additional license — marijuana businesses will already have to obtain a state license to operate — is an unnecessary measure.

“These are business people; they’re not criminals, and I think we need to treat them like any other business in Juneau,” said committee member Dennis Watson, arguing that the city should not impose any additional licensing requirements for marijuana businesses. White and committee member Bill Peters also took firm stances against requiring city licenses.

“You’re creating a whole other level of bureaucracy that you don’t need,” Peters said.

And according to Mead, he isn’t wrong. Mead said that the city could force compliance without licenses. In fact, the process is similar if the city decides not to require licenses.

“The license still requires hearings and court actions,” she said. “It’s somewhat of the same process.”

More in News

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Friday, Jan. 21

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

Ted Nordgaarden of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation imitates the gesture made by the defendant during the trial of a man charged with killing another man in Yakutat in 2018. (Screenshot)
Investigator testifies as trial concludes second week

The jury watched video of the defendant’s initial interview in custody.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. A commission tasked with reviewing legislative pay on Tuesday voted to raise the annual salary for Alaska lawmakers but to restrict the daily allowance lawmakers can receive. The changes will go forward unless the Legislature expressly rejects them. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
State lawmakers face proposed salary hike, allowance limits

A commission tasked with reviewing legislative pay on Tuesday voted to raise… Continue reading

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 21, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Goldbelt Transportation and Allen Marine Tours will contract with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to provide ferry service through the Southeast for the remainder of the winter, according to a news release. (Courtesy photo / Goldbelt Transportation)
Goldbelt, Allen Marine pick up winter ferry contracts

Contracts were signed this January for several winter runs to Southeast communities.

Most Read