Parachute voters will decide fate of retail pot
Pam Jarrett says that all she’s ever wanted when it comes to allowing the retail marijuana industry into Parachute is for residents to get to decide whether that’s something they want in town.
This fall, she’ll get her way, as residents vote on a citizen initiative led by Jarrett, an opponent of retail marijuana in Parachute. The measure asks if the town should prohibit retail marijuana stores, grow facilities, and marijuana product manufacturing and testing facilities, reversing a previous decision by town trustees.
“When the election is over I will be glad that people voted and voiced their preference, whichever way it goes,” Jarrett said. “… I honestly will just be glad for people to have a chance to vote on it.”
The election also should finally put the debate to rest from the town’s point of view as well, although Mayor Roy McClung thinks the results of a town trustee election earlier this year may be a pretty good indication of the likely outcome.
Voters rejected the proposed recall of McClung and two other elected officials who were targeted for recall because they supported the town’s decision to allow retail marijuana businesses. In addition, Jarrett was the lowest vote-getter in a five-way race for four town trustee seats.
McClung considers that election something of a referendum itself on the marijuana issue.
“I feel pretty positive the town (voters) will have the same opinion now as they did last April,” he said. Three retail stores are currently operating in town. McClung said one of them, Tumbleweed Dispensary, is seeking to open a drive-thru express marijuana outlet — to his knowledge the first drive- thru pot dispensary in the world. Also, another business that will manufacture marijuana products such as baked goods is working on opening, he said.
Jarrett is concerned by the proximity of homes, hers included, to some of the facilities, and their high-visibility locations.
“I’ve been to other towns where you have to look to find them, and here it’s just blatantly right out there. They’re very obtrusive,” she said.
One is on the street headed to Grand Valley High School.
“Many parents and kids have told me that they were really offended” when it opened there, she said.
McClung said that while he has no intentions of using marijuana himself, he considers it “probably a safer vice than alcohol or tobacco.” He said it’s not up to him to decide if others want to use it, and it’s been a good revenue stream for the town.
Trustees turned toward the marijuana industry in an effort to boost commerce and tax revenues due to the fiscal impacts to Parachute of the slowdown in oil and gas development. Now, the town’s revenues are holding steady even as revenues in some other area communities are falling off a bit, he said.
“Without (marijuana revenues) we would be having to let staff go, we would be going back to just the bare minimum as far as services we provide,” he said.
Town voters last fall approved an excise tax on retail marijuana, and the town is asking them this fall to approve a 5 percent excise tax for manufactured marijuana goods, McClung said.
Marijuana revenues are helping the town continue pursuing a master plan to pursue other economic opportunities, such as ones related to recreation, he said. He said Parachute doesn’t want marijuana to be its only industry, and its revenues are helping the town continue working on diversifying its economy.