Palisade voters to decide fate of pot centers

Jesse Loughman, left, and his wife, Desa, owners of the Colorado Alternative Health Care, listen as the Palisade Town Board unanimously decides to place a measure on the Nov. 1 ballot to ban the commercial sales of medical cannabis in town.

Palisade residents will get to decide in November whether to ban medical marijuana centers in the only place in Mesa County in which one currently is operating.

The Town Board voted unanimously to place a measure on the Nov. 1 ballot asking voters whether commercial sales of medical cannabis should be prohibited in Palisade.

Trustees made their decision quietly with no testimony from the public. The only person who spoke during the hearing was Mayor Roger Granat, who said he believed “the democratic process should prevail” and voters should be allowed to decide the issue. The Town Board had the option of adopting an ordinance banning medical marijuana businesses.

The ballot question was prompted by a petition drive organized by medical marijuana opponents. Town Clerk Carol Speakman concluded earlier this month that petitions submitted by Palisade residents Jacob and Dominica Steele contained enough valid signatures.

Diane Cox, spokeswoman for citizens’ group Safe and Healthy Mesa County, said Amendment 20, which in 2000 permitted marijuana use for medicinal purposes, never contemplated retail medical marijuana sales.

“They never voted for a big, booming, commercial business for medical marijuana,” she said.

Desa Loughman, co-owner of Colorado Alternative Health Care in Palisade, the only medical marijuana center operating in the county, said outlawing businesses like hers will not get rid of medical marijuana and will instead force patients to drive elsewhere or grow their own product.

“It gets rid of patients’ access to regulated, taxed, tested products,” she said. “We are the strictest, most regulated industry in the country.”

Voters previously banned medical marijuana centers in Grand Junction and unincorporated Mesa County.


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