Grand Junction voters will decide the future of marijuana businesses in the city, and potential tax revenue for city parks, when it votes on two ballot amendments on April 6.
The city had to split the issue into two ballot measures because it needed to both establish voter approval to tax the sale of marijuana (2A) and repeal a 2011 voter approved moratorium on marijuana businesses (2B).
The City Council began discussions on whether to go to the voters with a ballot question on marijuana over the summer. It held eight workshops between July and January, including one with lengthy public comment. It also convened a working group of city staff and community representatives to advise the council.
Through this process it proposed, with voter approval, that the tax revenue should go first to enforcing marijuana regulations and the implementation of allowing those new businesses to operate within the city.
The additional revenue would be directed to fund the highest priority projects identified in the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. That plan identified a community center as its top priority.
One aspect of the marijuana issue that has not been included in the ballot measures is how those businesses would be regulated. The regulatory framework would determine everything from the allowed business license types to signage to the number of retail stores allowed. The proposed language leaves that regulatory framework to the City Council.
The Planning Commission has discussed a possible regulatory framework that the city could adopt. It recommended treating marijuana retail stores similar to liquor stores, including a 500 foot buffer from schools. The City Council has expressed an intent to limit retail stores to six, but that is not within the ballot measures.
If voters approve both measures it will authorize the city to collect up to $2.9 million in marijuana related sales tax in the first year of implementation.