North Pole's local council in Alaska has rejected the bid to ban the operation of marijuana dispensaries in the small town.
The ordinance, which was filed by Councilwoman Sharron Hunter, only received a 2-5 vote during the debate last Monday and failed to meet the requirements for a public hearing, according to Newsminer.
The sale of marijuana has been legalized in Alaska since February 2015, but the town of North Pole is the only place in the Fairbanks North Star Borough to have formally lodged an ordinance to prohibit its sale. But because this ordinance was rejected, cannabis stores in the area can begin their operation by next year. The state of Alaska is still in the process of ironing out the regulations for marijuana sale, according to Consumerist.
"Really letting the market dictate where it goes is a more appropriate setting," Mayor Bryce Ward said. "I am not saying I am in favor of using marijuana. I never have been. What we are talking about is the commercialization of it. If shops opened up here, if it's something this community doesn't want, people aren't going to shop there."
Meanwhile, police chief Steve Dutra said that arrests for possession of marijuana have declined in North Pole since it became legal in February. The authorities haven't had any significant problems with users since the law went into effect, as the law actually covers recreational use of cannabis.
For her part, Councilwoman Sharron Hunter filed the ordinance to protect the image of North Pole. "I think having visible retail marijuana sales does not fit in with that concept," Hunter said, Newsminer reported.
"We have to look beyond the money it will bring us," the councilwoman added.
One local looking forward to the increase in cannabis business in the North Pole is Santa Claus, who, coincidentally, shares the same name as the Christmas icon. Claus, a medical marijuana patient, welcomes its accessibility as he doesn't have to leave town to buy what he needs.
"As far as the image goes here at North Pole, how do most people perceive Santa Claus?" he said, according to the Daily Mail. "I would say Santa Claus is a pretty jolly fellow."