Pot panel OKs buffer zone motion

SITKA — Sitka’s Marijuana Advisory Committee has approved a proposed resolution supporting a smaller buffer zone between marijuana businesses and schools than required under state regulations.

Committee members agreed Monday to consider the draft again next week before sending it to the Sitka Assembly, The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.

The resolution calls for marijuana businesses to be at least 200 feet away from establishments such as churches, schools and youth centers. State regulations require a minimum distance of at least 500 feet.

A majority of committee members agreed that the state requirement would rule out many locations in Sitka they deemed suitable for marijuana businesses. They also approved of the 200-foot requirement because it’s similar to state law regarding establishments that sell alcohol.

Other members were concerned that the proposal had already been rejected at the state level.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the 500-foot buffer zone,” said Bob Potrzuski, who voted against the resolution. Even if this resolution is approved by the committee, he said, it will still need approval from the Assembly, which would include more public comments.

“Is it worth the fight? That’s the question,” said committee member Jay Stelzenmuller.

Others said they believe the city should take a stance on the issue, along with other Southeast Alaska communities that have expressed similar concerns.

“We have nothing to lose by doing this,” said Chairman Levi Albertson. “But if we have a small chance to fix this it would be incumbent on us to do it.”

The committee on Monday also voted unanimously to allow for people to use marijuana at Sitka establishments that sell it. The committee’s decision is in line with state regulations approved last month that allow for on-site consumption in areas separate from the retail space and not in public view.

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Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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