Protest filed against Palisade over petition for medical-pot ban vote

The town of Palisade will hold a hearing Tuesday to take testimony on a protest challenging a petition that would ask voters whether to ban medical marijuana centers in the town.

Colorado Alternative Health Care owners Desa and Jesse Loughman issued a news release Sunday indicating a written protest challenging the legal sufficiency and validity of the petition has been filed with Town Clerk Carol Speakman.

A hearing on the protest will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Palisade Community Center, 120 W. Eighth St., according to the news release. Residents will have the opportunity to speak during the hearing.

Speakman confirmed Sunday night that a protest has been filed and a hearing will be held.

Palisade residents Jacob and Dominica Steele submitted petitions in June that would create a ballot measure seeking to prohibit medical marijuana centers from operating in Palisade. Colorado Alternative Health Care is the only such center operating in Mesa County.

Reached Sunday night, Desa Loughman said the protest was filed by a Palisade woman she declined to identify. Loughman acknowledged enough signatures had been collected but said the protest is intended to counter “false, misleading accusations” made by Diane Cox, spokeswoman for Safe and Healthy Mesa County and one of the leading opponents of medical marijuana dispensaries, that such businesses have triggered an increase in crime and target teenagers.

“We have conducted a very professional, legitimate business from Day One,” Loughman said.

Cox contended there is no legal basis for the protest and said she stands by her concerns.

“I think they’re grasping at straws,” Cox said. “Everything we have said is verifiable.”

Speakman determined last month that petitioners had collected enough valid signatures for a ballot measure. But she indicated she couldn’t certify the petitions until the protest period passed.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Speakman will determine whether the petition is sufficient.


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