County adds to haze caused by Amend. 20

Faced with the choice of asking voters to ban medical-marijuana dispensaries or working to regulate them, the Mesa County Commission has opted to take the path worse traveled.

The commission voted 2-1, commissioners Craig Meis and Steve Acquafresca in the majority, to ask voters whether they wish to ban medical-marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated lands of the county.

The decision reached Monday is at odds with the one reached last week by the Grand Junction City Council, which opted to write regulations governing dispensaries, which are the progeny of Amendment 20, approved by voters a decade ago.

This presents the very real possibility that medical marijuana may be legal in the city of Grand Junction, but illegal in Mesa County.

In seeking another one, the commission is casting away an opportunity for the county and city to operate hand in hand in ways to meet the full intent of Amendment 20.

It seems clear to us that a coordinated effort to deal with dispensaries is necessary if only because of the nature of Mesa County, given its dense urban population in unincorporated areas such as Clifton and Fruitvale, as well as Grand Junction, and the vast open lands that characterize the bulk of the county.

If Mesa County voters ban dispensaries in unincorporated lands, the practical effect could be to drive those businesses into Grand Junction.

Exactly how the city will welcome that remains to be seen.

The decision, however, raises the issue of whether the city could permit something that’s banned by the county.

Would that make Grand Junction a dispensary “sanctuary city” of sorts in this juxtaposition of overlapping sovereigns?

If the county bans dispensaries, but allows them in Grand Junction, would it not forfeit any reasonable claim to the county share of the sales-tax receipts generated in the city from dispensaries?

There are plenty of questions that arise from this action by the commission.

A simple answer still seems better to us.

Consistent ordinances across city and county lines would make it easier for police and other authorities, such as zoning officials, to deal with dispensaries.

Given the market popularity of dispensaries and the length of time it has taken to begin implementing Amendment 20, the sooner reasonable regulations are drafted, the better.


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