County to decide on giving pot shop question to voters

Mesa County commissioners will decide Monday whether to put a question on the November ballot asking voters if they want to ban medical marijuana centers in unincorporated areas of the county.

New state law gives local governments the leeway to prohibit medical marijuana centers, grow operations and the manufacture of marijuana-infused products or let voters decide those issues.

The board voted 2-1 in July to reserve a spot on the ballot. Polled by The Daily Sentinel on Friday, commissioners sounded as though they could split again Monday.

Individual citizens are welcome to comment during Monday’s hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. at the county courthouse, 544 Rood Ave.

Commissioner Janet Rowland, who voted against the place-holder last month, said she doesn’t believe there should be a ballot question.

Rowland said she didn’t vote for Amendment 20, the measure approved in 2000 that permitted marijuana use for medicinal purposes, because she believed that right would be abused.

But she said elected officials can’t pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they want to support.

“I don’t support allowing small parts of the state in various counties to kind of mob rule, where if you live in our area, you’re not going to have the ability to exercise your constitutional right to use (medical marijuana),” Rowland said.

She said the county would be better off waiting to see how new regulations adopted by state lawmakers pan out.

“I would rather have a half-dozen, large facilities in commercial areas operate during business hours rather than having 75 or 100 little grow projects in various neighborhoods,” she said.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, on the other hand, said he sees no risk to placing a question on the ballot.

He said he made a concerted effort in the last month to talk to a variety of community members to gauge their opinions. He said some people want dispensaries to continue as they do now with little or no change. More people prefer a ban, he said.

But Acquafresca, who voted in favor of the place-holder, said the greatest number of citizens he talked to want the opportunity to decide the matter themselves.

“The great majority of folks that provided feedback are making it very clear that they believe the community should be able to determine its own destiny and what this community is going to look like in the future,” he said.

Commissioner Craig Meis, who sided with Acquafresca in approving the place-holder, said he hasn’t made up his mind.

“Quite frankly, I’m still looking into it,” Meis said.


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