Marijuana business owners brace for pivotal vote in Fairbanks
Voters in Fairbanks Tuesday night will decide whether to ban businesses already operating in the city and borough -- that includes about half of the state’s cultivation centers.
At polling stations Tuesday afternoon, volunteers reported higher than anticipated turnout, crediting the marijuana ballot initiative -- Proposition A and Proposition 1-- for drawing more people to the polls.
There’s millions of dollars at stake in the community -- and a lot of anxiety on both sides of the issue.
It’s been a good year for Greg Allison, owner of "Good," a marijuana dispensary.
Allison has made a big investment in both the farming and selling of cannabis in Fairbanks.
He's part owner of a cultivation center just outside the city limits of Fairbanks, within the borough, as well as a retail store in the city. Depending on the results of Tuesday's ballot initiatives, he could lose one or both of his businesses.
Proposition 1 prohibits marijuana business within the Fairbanks North Star Borough, while Proposition A bans those operations within city limits.
"It’s scary that our livelihood is in danger. I mean, a lot of people have worked very very hard to bring this to Fairbanks," said Barrett Goodale, an employee at the Good cultivation center.
Right now, Allison says Good is doing great -- the company is finally making a profit after years of just paying the bills.
"We were aware there were people who opposed us," Allison said.
Jim Ostlind, a sponsor of Prop A and Prop 1, is one of them.
"These businesses knew that this could happen to them and they chose, well they made a business decision to go ahead and start doing business," said Ostlind. "It's unfortunate."
Ostlind, a retired carpenter who lives 35 miles outside of city limits, said he first became interested in the issue when he learned a marijuana business was going up in his neighborhood. Ostlind says the initiatives aren't aimed at making marijuana illegal.
"But what I am against is marijuana businesses going into residential neighborhoods when people who live there don’t want them in there," said Ostlind. "What does the community want? That’s the question."
It's a question only voters can answer, as marijuana business owners who rolled the dice financially, wait to see whether it paid off.
Polls close at 8 o'clock Tuesday night. Results are expected to start trickling in as soon as 9 p.m.
For unofficial results, click here.
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