CO: Pueblo County Drops Pot Moratorium Issue

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A proposed county ballot question that would ask if an existing moratorium on the licensing of any new commercial and medical pot businesses should be extended was shot down Wednesday after an anti-pot advocate claimed the measure was an attempt to confuse voters.

Charlene Graham, chair of the Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo, told Pueblo County commissioners that they were adding the proposed measure to confuse voters with the anti-pot group’s ballot petition 200 that would end the sale and growing of any commercial marijuana in Pueblo County.

She said it also would clutter up and confuse an already crowded election ballot.

As the issue was about to be voted on Wednesday, Graham asked to speak.

“This proposal is contrary to Amendment 64, which allows the people to petition every two years to propose ordinances regulating or limiting commercial marijuana. Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo regards this proposal much akin to closing the barn door after the horses have escaped,” Graham said.

“The proposal is window dressing to provide political cover for the board of county commissioners and served to confuse the voting public.”

Commissioner Sal Pace quickly responded, saying that it was not intended to confuse voters, and he asked the board to throw it out.

“We want a clear message from the voters this November,” Pace said.

“I certainly don’t want Nov. 8 to occur and 200 to be defeated and then be told that it wasn’t a legitimate answer because we had another question on the ballot.”

Pace said he wants the citizens of Pueblo to know definitively where they stand on the issue.

“No one can be accusing each other after the fact of playing shenanigans or games. I am a lot more concerned with Nov. 8 having a strong message with the voters than I am having this (moratorium) on the ballot as well,” Pace said.

“I just say let’s pull it off the ballot. Let’s have a clear-cut vote on 200, and that way no one can be playing Monday morning quarterback saying that they’ve lost unfairly.”

All three commissioners denied that they were attempting to confuse voters.

Graham questioned the timing of the ballot measure.

“No talk of this had ever come up before – putting something on the ballot – until we were on there. So it’s certainly being construed that way, I can tell you that,” Graham said.

The current moratorium on sales and medical licenses is set to expire Jan. 1.

The commissioners still can impose an extension of the existing moratorium to 2020 without voters’ approval.

In other marijuana issues facing the commissioners Wednesday, an advisory question that would ask the state to significantly change the number of marijuana plants that could be grown per residence in residential areas was added to the ballot.

Currently the state allows 99 plants per residence. The new ballot question would ask the General Assembly to change that to no more than 18 plants per residence.

The commissioners have said that 99 plants per residence is far too many in a residential neighborhood.

The county has taken steps to reduce that number through land-use regulations but enforcement options are far more limited than state laws.

Commissioner Terry Hart said the commissioners have tried to convey the message to the state but it would be more effective if the community was behind them.

“The difficulty of it is, is sometimes you can only get so loud of a voice. But our theory, I believe, is that if an entire community says that you need to do that, then that gives a much greater amount of credibility than Mr. Pace or any of the rest of us who are making these kinds of arguments in front of the General Assembly that this is a major problem,” Hart said.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Pueblo County Drops Pot Moratorium Issue
Author: Anthony A. Mestas
Contact: (719) 544-3520
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Website: The Pueblo Chieftain