Group starts petition drive to put marijuana to citywide vote
A petition headed by a citizens’ group aims to throw the doors wide open on marijuana sales in Grand Junction, giving preference to locals to open marijuana-related businesses.
Residents can expect to see members of the group Grand Junction Cannabis Access Now, or GJ CAN, gathering signatures to allow local sales of marijuana in anticipation of an April 2017 ballot measure.
If approved, the measure would allow business owners to apply for eight types of licenses for marijuana-related businesses, with no limits on the number of facilities that could locate in Grand Junction.
For the first year after passage of the measure, licenses would only be granted to people who have been Mesa County residents for at least one year, or residents who had previously operated medical marijuana operations locally, or who had obtained a license to operate a medical marijuana business before the stores were shut down.
“That’s something that we put in there to help Mesa County residents,” said Tanette Mucino, registered agent for the proposed ballot measure. “Right now we want to give the local economy a boost.”
Also, according to the petition’s wording, business owners would pay initial operating fees and annual license renewal fees, but no further taxes would be levied on customers’ sales, aside from regular city sales taxes.
For example, someone opening a retail marijuana store would be required to pay $6,000 in an initial fee and operating fees every year of another $6,000.
If passed, Grand Junction’s current ordinance would be changed to allow licenses for people to operate: medical marijuana and retail marijuana centers, marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities, medical marijuana and retail marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana testing facilities and storage warehouses.
Members of GJ CAN expect to be heading door-to-door to gather signatures and they will be hosting petition drive events, Mucino said. Petitions will be available to sign at Natural Order Supply, 2493 U.S. Highway 6, No. 5. They also will be at the two Discontent locations, 102 North Ave. and 2977 North Ave., she said.
Petitioners must collect 2,254 signatures of registered Grand Junction voters.
The city of Grand Junction must have the signatures certified to Mesa County’s election division by Feb. 3 to make it onto the April ballot, Grand Junction City Clerk Stephanie Tuin said. The signatures must be submitted well before the February date, so city staff can work to verify the signatures, she said.
The proposed ballot measure is worded so business owners could obtain licenses to open shops almost immediately, Mucino said. “If we vote in April and it passes, we could essentially have stores (opening) before Palisade,” she said. “I think it’s a good time for it. People are definitely ready for it.”
Palisade voters will decide in November’s election whether to approve of recreational sales of marijuana and related businesses in their town limits.
If approved, the earliest any retail marijuana shops could open in Palisade is May 2017, after trustees enacted a moratorium.