City voters back ban of medical marijuana dispensaries

Suzanne Brownson is one Grand Junction resident who got out to vote mainly to weigh in on whether medical marijuana dispensaries should stay or go.

Brownson voted to keep the shops open, or against an ordinance that bans them. But she, along with thousands of like-minded folks, didn’t gather enough momentum to keep the storefronts in Grand Junction.

Final, unofficial results Tuesday night showed almost 58 percent of voters chose to ban medical marijuana shops in Grand Junction. The vote totals were 7,802 for the ban, 5,703 against it.

The medical marijuana issue clearly prompted voters to cast ballots and might have been a reason for the election’s record turnout. Of the 13,505 people who cast votes on the marijuana issue, about 2,100 voiced their opinion on that issue alone and did not vote for their choice for the at-large city council seat.

Reaction to the failure to defeat the ban was evident by a clearly dejected group of medical marijuana shop owners and workers who sulked over beers at Blue Moon Bar & Grille, 120 N. Seventh St., on Tuesday night.

“There’s a lot of people losing their jobs,” one man said.

“I’d rather have people getting (medical marijuana) a legal way than an illegal way,” Brownson said Tuesday night.

A small group of people who had publicly pleaded their cause at numerous City Council meetings and rallied to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open declined to comment Tuesday night after the election results were clear.

Several medical marijuana dispensaries around Grand Junction donated at least $1,000 each to the campaign to fight the ordinance, according to city campaign-finance records.

City Council member Gregg Palmer voted against medical pot stores when the City Council decided in October 2010 to ban the centers. The ordinance went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, but the council later decided to let voters decide the issue. Palmer said he was pleased to learn the majority of voters agreed to shutter the shops.

“We really worked hard on that issue,” he said. “To have folks come back and say, ‘You got it right,’ feels really good.”

Palmer said the city will work to enforce the ban, “and it will happen right away.”

In November, Mesa County voters voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Mesa County.

The local ban on medical marijuana stores does not affect state laws that allow caregivers to grow a limited amount of medical marijuana plants for a specified number of patients.



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