Council stays mellow on medical marijuana

Despite the sign-carrying demonstrators who marched outside City Hall Monday evening, the Grand Junction City Council doesn’t appear inclined to suddenly slam the door on medical marijuana within the city.

Rather, the council is taking a measured approach to the medical pot issue — seeking input not just from those who use the substance medicinally and the businesses that serve them, but from law enforcement and others in the community.

Good for them. Regulating medical marijuana is a complicated issue that demands thoughtful policy, not knee-jerk legislation.

Council members also declined to consider a possible ordinance drafted by the city attorney, saying they want to hear from various stakeholders before they contemplate any pot ordinance.

Some proponents of medical marijuana seem to believe that any regulation of its medical use amounts to a violation of Amendment 20, which was approved by Colorado voters a decade ago. But that’s not the case. In fact, the amendment specifically requires the Legislature to “enact such legislation as may be necessary” to implement the medical marijuana section of the state Constitution.

Nothing in Amendment 20 contemplates or authorizes the medical marijuana dispensaries that have blossomed around the state in the past year. The bill passed by the state Legislature this year doesn’t outlaw the dispensaries, but it allows local governments to consider prohibiting dispensaries within their borders. Those local governments, however, could not ban individual caregivers who provide medical marijuana to a limited number of clients.

The Daily Sentinel has not argued for a ban on medical mari-juana dispensaries, but we believe the Legislature had to adopt rules on how and where medical marijuana may be sold, and by whom.

The Legislature did just that, and now the Grand Junction City Council is acting under the state guidelines to determine what it should do to regulate the industry in this city.

The fact that council members want to obtain input from many different people who have a stake in the issue demonstrates they aren’t rushing to hastily adopt a new ordinance. And that should be welcome news to all city residents.


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