The decision by Mesa County Commissioners to ask voters to allow marijuana cultivation and manufacture in unregistered Mesa County is a reasonable response to the development of local marijuana retail.
With the city of Grand Junction joining the ranks of Colorado cities to approve recreational marijuana sales – but some city council members have been reluctant to allow cultivation in the city – Mesa County commissioners have wisely given voters the opportunity to permit cultivation where it is most appropriate or desirable.
If voters answer yes to two different marijuana questions when they vote in November, Mesa County can impose a 5% excise tax on sales of cultivated marijuana to retail or medical marijuana stores. The tax is expected to raise approximately $ 753,000, the bulk of which would add to (not replace) the money the county is already spending on mental health and substance abuse programs. Some could be used for other things like fire, parks, and transportation improvements.
Just as important as the angle of sales, however, is the idea that the measure would remove handcuffs from an emerging industry.
When the City of Grand Junction completes its licensing program and approves an indefinite number of pot shops to operate, these companies will need a source for their products. The commissioners let the county voters determine whether this supply chain can be sourced locally.
“If this continued, we would have the opportunity to grow and manufacture all items with marijuana and put the measures on the fall ballot.
Wernig is the managing partner of Palisade Farms Colorado, which operates the Orchard Mesa Greenhouse at 3281 C Road.
As Charles Ashby of Sentinel reported, the three members of the commission could have made their own choice to allow the cultivation, manufacture and testing of marijuana, but chose to give voters a voice.
Interestingly, as early as 2010, Janet Rowland urged voters to oppose a ban on the sale of medical marijuana, arguing that “voters in any part of the state should not be allowed to opt out of the constitution on a district basis.” It was referring to Amendment No 20, which changed the state’s constitution to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
But the measure was narrowly approved and subsequent commissions have indicated that they refuse to change the anti-pot status quo.
The county’s move does not, but does not have to, give voters a choice of allowing retail marijuana to be sold. Such shops are already legal in Palisade and De Beque and Grand Junction’s will go online in the near future.
Commissioners seem to recognize that attitudes have changed since 2010. Marijuana is here and the upcoming vote won’t change that.
But the election measure gives voters the “freedom to choose a path forward in this new marijuana retail landscape”.
By this standard, we must give the Commissioners credit for being consistent.