Picture looking across a valley at Pinnacle Mountain near Palmer, Alaska.

Cecil Sanders

An attempt to outlaw commercial cannabis operations in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Borough — the state’s biggest marijuana cultivation hotspot, located north of Anchorage — has been rejected by voters, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

Higher-than-expected voter turnout helped defeat the measure, opponents said. Proponents said they had expected turnout to range from 9 percent to 13 percent; however, early indictors show 23 percent showed up at the polls. Last year, 14 percent turned out for the regional elections in October.

“We’re celebrating,” Tel White, a Wasilla business owner who created M Thunderfund Inc. to oppose local cannabis bans, said in the report “I’m surprised. I feel a lot of gratitude for all the people that worked on this campaign. I think we’re all really happy about the voter turnout for the Mat-Su Borough.”

The ban would have outlawed cultivation, testing, retail sales, and the production of edibles; while allowing for industrial hemp. The anti-campaign had collected nearly 2,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot but did little to no campaigning for their position.

Voters in the region also approved a 5 percent sales tax on retail cannabis sales, providing a 3 percent exemption for cities that already have a cannabis sales tax in place. Voters in the city of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough also approved marijuana taxes in their own elections.    

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