Grand Junction bans sales of retail pot
Grand Junction city councilors voted Wednesday night to ban retail sales of recreational marijuana, putting the city among the ranks of municipalities around Colorado that have prohibited commerce in small amounts of the drug.
Although several people asked that councilors allow retail sales of the drug or put the issue to a public vote, councilors unanimously voted against it.
Amendment 64, passed in November in Colorado, allows residents over age 21 to use and possess small amounts of the drug, and adult residents can each legally grow up to six marijuana plants.
Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper provided a statement to councilors that cited a number of statistics showing probable links between marijuana use and an increase in District 51 school expulsions and car crashes.
He said telling students not to use drugs but allowing the visible sales of marijuana through storefronts in Grand Junction would send “mixed messages” to youth. Camper said, in a comparison to alcohol abuse and marijuana, alcohol fuels countless societal problems. However, marijuana use also comes with its own set of drawbacks.
“In my opinion retail sales of marijuana is a bad idea for Grand Junction,” he said.
Grand Junction’s ordinance includes a ban on manufacturing, testing and cultivation of marijuana in city limits. Mesa County has instituted a similar ban. Palisade has placed a moratorium on recreational pot until Jan. 2. Fruita is considering temporarily banning recreational marijuana, but is allowing voters to decide whether they want marijuana-related businesses in town.
Municipalities have until Oct. 1 to decide whether they will allow retail sales within their limits. That’s the date the state can start accepting applications for retail facilities.
Resident Charles Elliott urged city councilors to allow recreational marijuana because some people were not comfortable signing up for Colorado’s medical marijuana registry.
He also considered the impacts of demand for people having to travel outside of Grand Junction to buy marijuana.
“If it’s illegal in town, they’ll buy it elsewhere,” he said. “You’re encouraging driving under the influence of drugs when you tell them they have to buy it 60 miles up the road from here.”
Grand Junction City Councilor Jim Doody said he’s still concerned with marijuana use being against federal law. He said he worries about marijuana being used in the workplace but said that the drug has helped a family member, a Vietnam veteran, deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It cuts both ways,” Doody said of marijuana.