Alaska Fireweed on 4th Ave. in downtown

A group of investors looking to open a marijuana business Downtown was hoping to get a special land use permit approved by the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday night, while another group showed up to ask Assembly members to press pause on issuing municipal permits for pot shop owners looking to move in Downtown.

Earlier this month, Downtown businesses owners raised concerns because there is no limit to how many pot shops can open Downtown.

The permit on Tuesday night’s agenda was for Great Northern Cannabis, set to move in at 541 West 4th Avenue.

The executive director of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Jamie Boring, says they’d like to see a plan in place first from marijuana industry leaders for how they’ll “police” their own businesses before moving in Downtown. He pointed out that the Downtown neighborhood has more walkable areas and a higher density of parks per mile than other areas in Anchorage– and a noticeably higher concentration of homeless, mentally ill, and substance dependent people, as well as social services.

He asked the Assembly to place marijuana permits for Downtown on hold.

“I think it’s very important that we give this industry an opportunity to do it right, and right now I think it’s clear that Downtown was not prepared for this, for whatever reason,” said Boring.

Great Northern Cannabis has some high-profile backers. Former Assembly member Patrick Flynn owns a roughly four percent share in the business, and Andrew Halcro, the director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, owns a one percent share.

“I think it actually makes a lot of sense, having a voice that is also an advocate for Downtown within the marijuana industry,” said Halcro. “I think it’s fabulous, I mean, I work with Jamie Boring with the Anchorage Downtown Partnership every week, so having a voice, not only in my organization but in the marijuana industry, I think is critical.”

The nine assembly members present voted to approve the permit.

They also voted 10 to one earlier in the evening to approve an ordinance with some amendments that will offer people engaging in prostitution prosecution immunity if they need to report a serious crime to police, and they voted six to three to approve an ordinance that will keep EasyPark from enforcing two-hour parking limits until 11 a.m. on Saturdays. The measure was submitted by Forrest Dunbar with the intention of making sure people aren’t tempted to drive home drunk on Friday nights to avoid citations.