Marijuana business is now legal in Cordova

City council nixes resolution to put issue on March 6 general election ballot

marijuana buds
On January 3, the city council voted to legalize commercial sale and cultivation of marijuana in Cordova.

Commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana is now legal within the city of Cordova.

The city council vote to remove the expired temporary prohibition against marijuana establishments with city limits came on the evening of Jan. 3, after a lengthy discussion and strong public comment before the council.

Section three of the ordinance, “Surtax levied on certain sales, services and rent” was eliminated.

Council members also voted 6:1 against putting to a vote during the city’s regular election on March 6 the question of whether or not to prohibit operation of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities as well as marijuana retail stores within Cordova.

Melina Meyer and her father Greg Meyer both gave moving arguments against the resolution to have the public vote on this topic in regular elections.

Melina Meyer, who applied for a “Standard Cultivation Facility” marijuana establishment license in 2017, spoke to the council regarding the impact this vote would have on her business.

“This would be another hurdle of many hurdles and many obstacles in this industry,” Meyer told the council, listing state regulations and expenses as current struggles.

Council member Robert Beedle was the sole vote in favor of the resolution.

“What this would do would allow on March 6, less than two months away, would establish the voice of Cordova, not ours, but what Cordova wants,” Beedle said. “If we wanna look at history, the 2:1, so that’s up to the business owner to decide if they want to move forward on things, but this would say definitively go ahead or no.”

“We’re willing to make it,” Greg Meyer said under his breath as the council members continued to question the amount of investments and risk factor of starting this business in Cordova.

In the November 2014 state election, residents of Cordova voted nearly 2:1 in favor of the Alaska marijuana legalization ballot measure.

“I guess this is our exciting family night out,” Greg Meyer said jokingly during audience comment, before vigorously encouraging the council to vote no on the resolution to have the public vote in regular elections.

“It just seems like this industry is going to be a small business industry and so far, I hate to say this, this council and previous councils don’t seem to be helping the little guy too much,” he said. “Now a small business wants to contribute, add to a sales tax, and you’re putting road blocks in front of them.”

A few council members changed their mind as the vote approached, asking if the risk of an initiative outweighs having it on an upcoming election ballot.

“It’s better to see what it actually is rather than fear the unknown and right now it’s unknown in this town,” said Melina Meyer, standing her ground for her business.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.