Grand County voters will decide fate of medical marijuana issues
Grand County, CO Colorado
Grand County voters will see a ballot question in November asking whether marijuana centers, cultivation operations and the sale of medical marijuana foods should be prohibited.
The question will read “shall medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations and medical marijuana infused products manufacturers’ licenses … be prohibited within the unincorporated boundaries of Grand County, Colorado?”
In studying a draft version of the question on Aug. 24, commissioners opted to change the question from “be allowed” to “be prohibited” in accordance with the state law, meaning a “no” vote would allow those commercial operations within the county’s jurisdiction, subject to a county 1 percent sales tax.
Commissioner Nancy Stuart was the sole dissenting vote in the 2-1 decision, moving at first to ban marijuana businesses altogether. Her premise was that voter-approved medical marijuana businesses could “end up costing the county money” unless the county can “tax the hell out of it.”
Stuart said behavioral health issues will spike if marijuana businesses are allowed, putting further strain on jails, courts and mental health services, which are already under-funded in her view.
Upon her motion to ban, Commissioner James Newberry voted against a ban, and Commissioner Gary Bumgarner abstained, thereby rejecting the motion.
Newberry said he does not believe legal marijuana businesses would impact public services already dealing with illegal drug cases. Marijuana centers by law can only cater to individuals who are card-carrying marijuana patients, he said, and taxing those businesses and products could help to fund existing public services – including behavioral health services.
After clarifying the oath commissioners take to uphold the state constitution – struggling with the conflict between federal policy and Colorado’s constitutional right to medical marijuana – Bumgarner moved to put the question before voters.
County Attorney Jack Dicola pointed out to Bumgarner that “marijuana” is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution but is explicitly allowed medically in Colorado, and that putting the question before voters does not cause a violation of the oath the commissioner had taken.
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