Nearly three years after the first retail cannabis store opened in Kenai, the city council is still working to tailor local rules to the local market.
This summer, the city’s planning and zoning commission recommended a closing time of 2 a.m. for cannabis stores. That was based in part on a complaint about traffic and headlights from a store near a residential neighborhood. State rules allow stores to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. The council discussed a compromise, leaving the later hours as an option for busier summer months. Here’s mayor Brian Gabriel.
“If we went June, July and August, that’s a time when there’s a lot more activity earlier in the morning. Not just related to our dipnet fishery, but also king fishing, maybe saltwater fishing and other activities, hiking; the second part of it is that you’re probably going to eliminate some of the headlight issues because we’ve got so much more daylight. And also, kind of a stick your toe in the water situation scenario to see how it works.”
Some on the council didn’t want to stray too far from state regulations, not wanting to put Kenai businesses at any kind of competitive disadvantage. Council member Henry Knackstedt said he wasn’t sure about taking action based on a single complaint.
“My interpretation of it is that she generally doesn’t appreciate marijuana. It could be someone who doesn’t appreciate alcohol, so if it was a bar or liquor store; that was what I got out of the (complaint). But I think the problem that we do have is that it’s not in our code, and I think we need to enforce it.”
After a couple rounds of motions and amendments, the council voted in the end to adopt for city code the same hours of operation the state allows, with businesses only required to be closed between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. The vote was unanimous.