City dabbles with pot idea

What a difference three years makes.

Just about three years ago to the day, the Grand Junction City Council determined the city did not need any part of the marijuana industry within its borders.

On Wednesday night, though, councilors decided in their consent agenda they will revisit the idea. During the next council meeting, Oct. 5, councilors will consider in a public hearing whether to allow marijuana testing facilities to operate within city limits.

The idea to change the city’s ordinance to allow testing facilities arrives on the heels of a request from a business to locate here.

The company, Source Certain, plans to open a laboratory in Grand Junction to test agriculture products for genetic research and to trace chemical properties, according to the city’s report.

If marijuana testing is allowed in Grand Junction, the company would operate under the name TSW Analytical to test marijuana for its THC content and confirm that the products tested are licensed and legal, according to state regulations.

Source Certain is one of four companies that have been included in the Rural Jump-Start program, an economic development model that offers tax incentives for local qualifying businesses.

The city states in its report that allowing such an industry is about “bringing new jobs, economic gains and the capital investment to the community.”

Testing facilities are proposed within a number of zoned areas, including Business 1, Commercial 1 and 2, Mixed Use, Business Park Mixed Use, Industrial Office, Light Industrial and General Industrial.

Grand Junction has a lengthy history with marijuana. City voters in April 2011 denied the presence of medical marijuana facilities in the city, closing down a number of shops that had already opened.

Mesa County voters also shot down the idea, and local voters also contradicted the state vote, Amendment 64, in 2012. The law, however, received majority approval from state residents and allows adults to possess, consume and grow small amounts of marijuana.

It also allowed for the presence of recreational marijuana stores and related marijuana businesses.

City councilors in 2013 didn’t think recreational marijuana needed a local business presence. Councilors, through an ordinance that went into effect in October 2013, opted not to allow sales of recreational marijuana, or any of its related businesses.

The ordinance reads, in part, “the city has duly and fully considered the matter and determined that is in the best interest of the citizens of Grand Junction to prohibit certain marijuana-related commercial and industrial activities and enterprises.”

The 2013 ordinance continues, “the real and possible primary and secondary effects of the cultivation and dispensing of marijuana and/or the manufacturing and sale of marijuana-infused products, those businesses, operations and land uses have been found to adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants.”

A new, proposed ordinance that will be considered Oct. 5 takes a different tone.

“While the City Council acknowledges that marijuana is controversial, whether for medical or recreational use, and that the policies related to its sale and use are difficult and complex, the Council having duly and fully considered an amendment to the Ordinance 4599 to allow marijuana testing facilities, does hereby endorse the following amendment to the Grand Junction Municipal Code to allow, authorize and provide opportunity for marijuana testing and testing facility (or facilities) to locate and conduct business within the city.”


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