Empire Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down

  • Monday, September 28, 2015 1:05am
  • Opinion

Thumbs up to forward thinking. The City and Borough of Juneau is requesting that the Assembly approve the creation of a new position that would educate the public on marijuana legalization and ensure businesses are following the rules. Legalized marijuana isn’t a slot machine where every pull (or purchase) is a winner for the city and state. There are sure to be added expenses at the city and state level, and with new rules for this fledgling business there must be people able to enforce those rules. It’s important these added expenses, whether coming from the city, schools or police force, be tallied so a more realistic picture can form of what Juneau actually stands to gain in taxes. We’ve all heard, “It costs money to make money,” and legalizing commercial pot sales is no different. Which brings us to …

Thumbs up to Anchorage police and the Alaska Department of Law for teaching a lesson in patience. Three marijuana distributors in the Anchorage area were charged last week for operating large-scale marijuana businesses. It’s legal in Alaska to light up (in your home) but the rules are still being written on the sales and manufacturing side of things. Our thumbs down isn’t so much about our feelings on marijuana sales — voters spoke and the state is following its instructions — but more about a few people getting an unfair head start on what promises to be a highly-competitive industry (once laws are written and permits distributed). For every future pot shop owner who is waiting patiently to get started, the alleged actions of Michael Crites, owner of Absolutely Chronic Delivery Co.; Rocky Burns, co-owner of Discreet Deliveries; and Charlene Egbe, who goes by Charlo Greene and runs the Alaska Cannabis Club, creates an unfair, and illegal, competitive advantage. We hope Alaska’s marijuana control board takes note and prohibits these individuals from receiving a license to sell in the future. If you break the rules this early on you shouldn’t be allowed to play later.

Thumbs down to bad behavior. A man acting as though he had a weapon robbed the Travelodge Hotel on Wednesday night, escaping with cash and terrifying a hotel employee. The next morning in an unrelated incident, someone in a green Jeep Cherokee led police on a chase through residential neighborhoods. Juneau typically isn’t a dangerous place to live, but acts such as these put honest, decent people in harm’s way. We hope any of you out there who might have information about these situations, or any other crime, will share what you know with authorities by calling the Juneau Police Department at 586-0600 or by reporting a tip to juneaucrimeline.com.

Thumbs up to birders. A male hooded oriole was spotted in the Juneau Community Garden this week, drawing in birders from around Alaska. The black, yellow and orange bird has never before been seen in the state. The bird’s winter range is typically much farther south in Mexico and California. Fourteen-year-old Owen Squires and his mother were the first to spot and identify the rare bird on Sept. 19. A yellow-throated warbler also was seen near Bartlett Cove last week, another Alaska first. Whether the birds’ northern migration was due to shifting weather patterns or simply more watchful eyes in the sky, as two naturalists suggested, is was a rare treat all the same to avian enthusiasts.

Thumbs up to public involvement. Several municipal candidate forums were held in the past two weeks, and two more are on the docket for today and Tuesday. Juneau Votes has again partnered with the Juneau Empire and KTOO for candidate debates at 5:30 p.m. both days. Today’s debate with Juneau Board of Education candidates will be held at KTOO’s @360 studio, and Tuesday’s with CBJ Assembly and mayoral candidates will be at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Egan Lecture Hall. If you intend to vote Oct. 6 (and you should), and you want to know more about the candidates on the ballot and have questions you’d like to ask, these events are for you. Then on Wednesday, locals will have the rare opportunity to weigh in on the state’s budget crisis during a 6-9 p.m. event at Centennial Hall. No municipality in Alaska is as dependent on state funding and employment as Juneau (20 percent of our jobs come from the state). Alaska can’t afford many things right now, but apathy isn’t one of them.

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