Palisade voters say, ‘Keep it and tax it’
Unlike their colleagues in other parts of Mesa County and many communities in Colorado, a majority of Palisade voters decided in Tuesday’s election to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to continue operating in their town.
They also decided, by a somewhat smaller margin, to impose a medical marijuana transaction fee that is expected to raise approximately $80,000 a year for the town.
Although The Daily Sentinel endorsed Palisade’s Referred Measure 2B, which would have banned medical marijuana dispensaries in that town, we recognize that the vote by Palisade voters rejecting 2B is not at all irrational, for several reasons.
First, by allowing the Colorado Alternative Health Care dispensary to remain in town, and by imposing the new tax on its transactions, voters will improve the budget outlook for a community that, like every other government entity of late, has been struggling because of the economy. The extra $80,000 a year is a significant sum for the small town’s coffers — about 35 percent of the amount it now collects from its 2 percent sales tax.
Additionally, there is a compassionate component to the vote, a belief that there ought to be one medical marijuana retail outlet in the county available to those people with legitimate health problems that marijuana can help alleviate. Many of those people don’t want to or cannot grow their own marijuana, and they may not want to find an individual caregiver to supply their needs.
Perhaps most importantly, though, there is the fact that Jesse and Desa Loughman, the owners of Colorado Alternative Health Care, have operated their business in a professional, community-oriented manner. They have been good neighbors, whose business hasn’t been a drain on local law enforcement resources.
We have argued, during several local campaigns about banning dispensaries, that voters didn’t envision storefront retail outlets for marijuana when they approved the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana 11 years ago. But voters in Palisade didn’t have to envision such an outlet. They’ve had first-hand experience with Colorado Alternative Health Care for two years.
The fact that a majority of Palisade voters don’t view that experience as negative is a testament to the goodwill the Loughmans have established in the community and the professionalism they have displayed in the operation of their business.