Fruita set to ban recreational pot, put it to voters
Fruita City Councilors are poised to ban recreational marijuana sales in city limits, but they also want voters to decide if that idea should stand. The question of whether the ban should be upheld will be placed on the city’s November ballot.
Councilors said at a workshop meeting on Tuesday night they will unveil an ordinance to that effect at their next meeting, Sept. 3.
“You can reasonably infer that people right now are interested in a ban,” Fruita Mayor Lori Buck said. “I’m not OK with an outright ban. This is a very big deal. It would be very cavalier to ban it and walk away.”
Some councilors are concerned that if retail sales of marijuana is allowed in Fruita, the city would be the only one in Mesa County, and possibly in the region, to allow it.
Residents over age 21 are allowed to possess and consume small quantities of marijuana, according to the state’s Amendment 64. However, cities have the right to decide whether retail sales, production facilities, manufacturing plants and testing sites for marijuana can exist in their municipalities. To date, Palisade has temporarily placed a moratorium on recreational marijuana until Jan. 2. Mesa County has banned it and the city of Grand Junction has signaled that it, too, will probably ban recreational pot.
“If we are one of the very few, we are being a magnet. Talk about opening a floodgate of people,” Councilor Stacey Mascarenas said. “Do we really want that for our character of our town? No one is saying you can’t have six plants at home.”
Councilor Bruce Bonar argued that not allowing marijuana testing facilities in Fruita was unnecessarily keeping out business.
“It is a chemistry lab,” he said. “Why are we banning that kind of business in Fruita?”
Councilors Mascarenas, Bob Fuller and Joel Kincaid said they were in favor of a ban without taking the issue to voters. Councilors Buck, Bonar, Mel Mulder and Cullen Purser said they would like voters to decide.
Bonar added that voters in some areas of Fruita approved seeing medical marijuana facilities as part of the past vote in Mesa County on the issue.
“I think we need to hear from the people,” Bonar said about an upcoming November vote. “I suspect that the vote is going to be a lot closer than you think.”