Palisade voters have final say on dispensary

After sweeping through Colorado, the medicinal marijuana controversy battle now lies in Palisade.

Voters will decide whether to require Palisade’s only medical marijuana dispensary to charge a $5 sales tax. They may also decide to shut the dispensary down.

If passed, Referred Measure 2A will set a $5 tax on any transaction at dispensaries in Palisade.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the levy would generate revenue going directly to Palisade.

Jesse Loughman is the co-owner of the medical marijuana dispensary in Palisade, Colorado Alternative Health.

He said that his clients aren’t necessarily happy about the tax.

“At the same time, it’s a lot cheaper to pay $5 and come here than it would be to drive all the way to Rifle.”

Palisade residents differ on Measure 2A. Some believe the tax would decrease purchases.

“They might as well tax and discourage it. There’s no need for that in our community,” said Doug Stassen.

Though Measure 2A will bring consequences to Colorado Alternative Health if passed, Loughman recognizes some positive, potential outcomes of the levy.

“It’s unfortunate that we might have to tax the people that are sick, but at the same time, in this economy, if this is something that can fiscally help the town of Palisade, then I think it’s a good thing, too,” he said.

The second ordinance, Measure 2B, started as a petition to outlaw dispensaries. It would ban the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Palisade.

The group behind the fight is Safe and Healthy Mesa County, led by Diane Cox.

Its members are concerned that dispensaries encourage drug use and endanger the community by increasing crime and drug addiction.

Loughman disagrees.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point. We’ve shown that this can be done right in the community. There hasn’t been one problem since day one.”

Some Palisade residents agree with him.

“I don’t think they should be shut down,” said James Purpus. “There are people who need it for medical uses, and they have the right to operate just like any other business.”

Kaitlin Lewis is a senior at Fruita Monument High School and is reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.


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