Fruita’s pot issue likely up to voters

The Fruita City Council voted Tuesday night to direct staff to draw up a ballot measure that will ask voters whether they want to ban medical marijuana centers in the city.

Council members voted 4–1 to leave it up to city residents as to whether Fruita should join Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction in outlawing businesses that sell cannabis for medicinal purposes. Councilman Bob Fuller cast the dissenting vote. Councilwoman Stacey Mascarenas was absent from the meeting.

“I think it’s appropriate for us to make a statement that we do not want the retail sale of an illegal narcotic to be done in Fruita, period,” Fuller said.

Council members had the option of prohibiting the businesses themselves, but city staff advised that taking that step now would be unnecessary, given the fact state legislators approved a bill that would extend a statewide medical-marijuana-center moratorium through June 2012. The legislation awaits Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.

Unlike public hearings before the Mesa County Commission and Grand Junction City Council when those boards considered whether to prohibit medical marijuana businesses or let voters decide the issue, the Fruita meeting was low-key and sparsely attended. There was no public testimony before the council.

Should voters authorize a ban on medical marijuana centers in Fruita, the only place left in the Grand Valley for patients to commercially purchase the drug would be in Palisade, where one dispensary is operating.

There are no medical marijuana centers in Fruita. A couple last year pulled their application for a conditional-use permit to open a business on U.S. Highway 6&50 after a day-care center opened nearby.


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