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By TERRI L. ROBBINS
I want to say how appreciative I am that people have the opportunity to attend our city council and borough assembly meetings, listen to deliberations, and speak their mind. I know it isn't always comfortable for our elected officials to hear some public comments.
When I was at the last Ketchikan City Council meeting, I listened, with some dismay, to a discussion of a proposed ban on marijuana product manufacturing within the city limits. Clearly, a concern held by most of our council members was the protection of children. I can't help but applaud that stance. We all want our youngest and most vulnerable residents to be safe and healthy.
And, as I listened and processed the comments, I agreed. Yes, there is an adults-only substance offered for sale in our community that could be very enticing to children. It often comes with fun, artistic packaging. It often is labeled with names that might appeal to children. It is often sweet in taste, and comes in colors that are attractive. It even sometimes looks like other, more benign substances, and an unsuspecting child might decide to sample this product.
Two points to make here.
One, I am talking about alcohol. Think back over my descriptions and see if I am accurate.
Two, whether it be alcohol or edible marijuana products, these substances are being sold in our city, already.
The manufacturing of marijuana products in Ketchikan is not going to suddenly make these irresistible items available for children. And, as with alcohol, the purveyors of marijuana products are held to a very strict set of regulations for restricting access to their products. Consumers, too, have a legal responsibility to keep both marijuana and alcohol out of youthful hands.
Why would the council want to block entrepreneurial ventures which provide job opportunities and contribute to our economy, and, by so doing, force marijuana retailers to send purchasing capital out of Ketchikan? I am pleased that a brewery has been approved for operation in Ketchikan, even though we know many young people seem to enjoy beer drinking at their parties. It seems somewhat narrow in outlook to deny marijuana product manufacturing businesses in order to protect our children.
I will close with just one more statement. Edibles do not target children, as was stated several times during the council meeting. Children do not have money to spend on these products and pot sales are about profits, like any other business. Underage consumption is illegal and selling to minors is illegal. Manufacturers would not be selling directly to the general consumer, at any rate, and, as I've said before, the product is being sold in our community already, by conscientious, law-abiding business people.
With the jobs, tax revenue, and business opportunities marijuana product manufacturing can offer our community, I believe the ban is a mistake and I hope the council will bring it back to the table for reconsideration.
Terri Robbins is a 27-year resident of Ketchikan.