Second time around, emotions running cooler on Palisade pot vote
Emotions that ran high when voters were asked in 2014 whether they wanted to allow retail marijuana stores in Palisade seem to have chilled two years later, with the question again before town residents.
In 2014, the issue over whether Palisade should allow retail marijuana and its associated businesses created heated public debate. The measure failed by just six votes.
The question again is in voters’ hands whether to approve five ballot questions related to retail marijuana. If the measures passes, Palisade trustees already have passed a companion measure that would place a moratorium on any of the businesses opening until May 2017.
The questions ask whether residents want recreational sales of marijuana; whether residents will allow marijuana product manufacturing facilities; whether testing facilities should be approved; and whether residents will allow retail marijuana cultivation facilities. A fifth question asks if voters want to levy an additional tax on wholesale marijuana. Voters in 2014 already approved taxing sales of recreational marijuana that is sold from retail stores.
Palisade has 1,631 registered voters. As of Thursday, 404 voters had returned ballots.
Rachel Evans, a server at 357 Bar & Grill, 235 Main St., is one of those registered Palisade voters. She hadn’t yet decided last week which way to vote, but after listening to some back and forth from her coworkers, she said she would vote in favor of it.
“The three or four festivals we do a year don’t do it for us,” Evans said. “It definitely would bring a lot of people down here and maybe they’d start opening up their shops more.”
A customer at the bar who was shaking his head back and forth seemed to be in the no-on-retail-marijuana camp.
“I’m already embarrassed to be a Coloradan,” the man said about marijuana being legal statewide, getting up from his barstool and not wanting to share his name.
He said he believed the issue would just keep coming up every two years until residents passed it, “like Obamacare,” and that he should probably move somewhere more conservative.
Three issue committees have registered with Palisade about the retail marijuana questions: Safe and Healthy Mesa County, which is headed by Diane Cox and opposes the measures; Citizens for Economic Growth, which is headed by Renee Grossman and supports the measures; and Citizens for 2A-E, which is headed by Desa Loughman and supports the measures.
Palisade is one of nine municipalities across the state with ballot questions on whether to allow marijuana sales in their areas. Palisade also is one of 12 municipalities in Colorado that will decide whether to tax marijuana sales, according to the Colorado Municipal League.
As of spring 2016, 174 municipalities in Colorado do not allow marijuana sales in their borders. Sixty-one municipalities do allow marijuana sales, according to data compiled by the league.
Tim Wedel, a potter whose business and residence are not included in city limits, said the marijuana question in town no longer dominates conversations this time around.
“It seems to have cooled quite a bit over the last two years,” Wedel said. “I seldom hear it discussed with that particular measure, and I don’t hear about the pro side of it either. That’s quite a change. I don’t hear about the pro or the con.”