- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A working group will be created in the Fairbanks North Star Borough to guide development of local rules governing commercial marijuana enterprises.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins is hoping to get regulations developed as early as February, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://is.gd/FYprJD) reported. The group is expected to begin meeting in early January.

“I certainly don’t want to sit in my office and say it ought to be this,” Hopkins said. “This is a community effort.”

The move follows the passage in November of Ballot Measure 2, which allows the possession, use and non-sale transfer of marijuana in Alaska, beginning Feb. 24.

Marijuana sales aren’t likely to begin until at least May 2016. The measure gives the state many months to develop and implement its own regulations.

Communities can opt out of allowing sales, but such bans likely would be politically unpopular, with the measure approved by a wide margin of voters.

In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the working group’s goal is to “develop zoning standards, production and sales requirements, and determine what other use issues need to be considered for adoption by the assembly and, to the extent needed, city councils.”

Hopkins said some real estate organizations in the borough are receiving inquiries about available retail spaces from outside the state.

According to Hopkins, possible issues to consider include buffer zones for certain areas, such as schools, halfway houses, day care centers and hospitals.

Another issue to consider would be private clubs, where people could bring marijuana to smoke. The use of marijuana is prohibited in public places, but it’s unclear how the rules would apply to businesses and clubs, Hopkins said.

The Anchorage Assembly has formed a committee to look at marijuana sales, with committee members including two who supported an unsuccessful proposal for a blanket ban on sales.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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