An hour of debate had already passed Wednesday night when the Kenai City Council found out that the ordinance before them did not accomplish what they thought it would.
The debate was ostensibly over whether to allow on-site consumption of marijuana in the city limits. The State of Alaska has already passed rules allowing it.
However, the ordinance before the council was only to regulate on-site consumption, not whether to allow it.
“So I just want to make sure everyone was clear that if this fails that doesn’t prohibit onsite consumption in the City of Kenai," City Attorney Scott Bloom said. "We would have to bring back further legislation.”
That revelation came as a surprise to Vice-Mayor Tim Navarre who chaired the meeting.
“Ah… thank you," Navarre said. "That’s new information to me, ‘cause I thought that if we didn’t pass this, or if we did, that was the approval.”
Councilwoman Glenese Pettey queried Bloom about what it means to fail this ordinance.
“It does not give the establishment the go-ahead with which to implement on-site consumption, is that correct?” she asked.
“Councilmember Pettey," Bloom said, "if this does not pass, our code’s basically silent, so we don’t have a process for dealing with it. It’s legal under state law.”
Bloom did hold out a lifeline for the council on the question of on-site consumption.
“Even if we didn’t have something on the books, Council can still object to any endorsement license that comes through the state process," Bloom said. "But we would lose our ability to permit them through the conditional use permit or impose conditions on businesses if our code is silent.”
Only one cannabis shop owner testified during the ordinance’s public hearing, and though he was in favor of on-site consumption, he did not plan to implement it himself.
The ordinance wound up failing on a 4-to-2 vote, with Mayor Brian Gabriel absent. Councilmen Bob Molloy and Robert Peterkin were the two Yes votes.