Fruita voters will decide fate of retail marijuana sales

Retail sales of recreational marijuana are banned in Fruita, but voters can overturn that decision in the April 2014 municipal election.

After hours of discussion in recent months, Fruita city councilors finalized their stance at their meeting last week.

Councilors also tweaked the rules on what growing and consuming marijuana in Fruita should look like, fine tuning their city code in light of the state’s Amendment 64.

Changes to Fruita’s code include:

■ Anyone who uses or grows marijuana cannot do so in a way that “annoys, disturbs or endangers” others.

■ Residents can consume marijuana on their property, which might be in public view, but the above rules apply. State law says that residents can only consume marijuana indoors out of public view.

■ Marijuana, which is legal for Colorado residents over age 21 to grow, must be grown in a locked, enclosed space. Fruita councilors went back and forth on this requirement and ultimately decided that will stand for Fruita residents.

Therefore, growing marijuana in your backyard, even behind a 6-foot fence is not allowed.

To date, sales of recreational marijuana or any related businesses are not allowed in any municipality in the Grand Valley. Palisade has one operational medical marijuana dispensary.

In Fruita, if voters decide they want to have retail marijuana sales and other related businesses, those entities would be subject to an additional 5 percent tax.

Taxes from the creation of one retail marijuana operation are expected to be less than $100,000 in the first year, city staff estimated.

City manager Clint Kinney said the ballot question on whether to approve retail sales of marijuana will be drafted in the affirmative, meaning that voting yes to the measure is voting for retail sales of marijuana. Three City Council seats also are up for election during the April vote.

City Councilor Mel Mulder said he’s proud that Fruita city leaders have seriously discussed retail sales of marijuana, because the topic is an important one for residents.

During last week’s council meeting, testimony from local Boy Scouts earning their merit badges was eye-opening, Mulder said.

The young charges spoke about the negative effects of marijuana on youths.

“We cannot pass laws, rules or regulations that (are) going to keep the young people, the adults, from doing what they want to do,” Mulder said.

“We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. I would be satisfied if nobody under the age of 21 is going to smoke marijuana and nobody under 21 would drink alcohol.”


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