NORTH POLE, Alaska — Communities across Alaska have been struggling with the state's recreational marijuana program, and some are voting to ban sales of legalized marijuana. One of those is North Pole, Alaska.
Voters approved Proposition 7, which bans the sale of marijuana within city limits. But legal cannabis has a surprising advocate there.
Santa Claus has put medical marijuana on his "nice" list.
The man who legally changed his name to "Santa Claus" is deeply religious, a monk and a child advocate. He said that's why he changed his name.
"It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. It helps," Santa says.
He's served as an elected city council member in North Pole for almost a year.
Before that, he worked in government, specializing in security and law enforcement.
"(I was) director of the Terrorism Research Communication Center from '78 to '86, and was Chief of Safety and Security for the U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority, was a member of FEMA's National Defense Executive Reserve," he said.
He worked in law enforcement, but is also against certain types of prohibition. So maybe it's not so surprising that his old life is influencing his new one.
Santa is now speaking out against North Pole's Proposition 7. North Pole residents just voted to outlaw the sale of marijuana in the city limits.
"Well if the spirit of Christmas lives year round in North Pole, why did Proposition 7 pass?" Claus asked.
Santa Claus is also a cancer patient, and he uses marijuana to help ease his symptoms. "In fact, I'm using it for my medical purposes. I don't see any negative association."
"I think they are not in this particular instance are not embracing the spirit of love," he says. "I think what they're doing is engendering hate, which comes from fear."
So for now, Santa will have to grow his own marijuana or travel to nearby Fairbanks to purchase marijuana from a dispensary.
And when it comes to whether you've been naughty or nice this year, he said not to worry: "Cannabis users will not be getting coal in their stocking unless they've done some other thing that might be considered egregious."