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August 27, 2010
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Glenwood Springs medical marijuana ballot petition drive suspended

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A petition drive seeking a city ballot question on whether to prohibit medical marijuana facilities in Glenwood Springs has been suspended.

"People were reluctant for a variety of reasons," petition circulator Shannon Winkler said Thursday of the effort, which garnered only about half of the 286 signatures needed within the 21-day petition circulating period that started Aug. 6.

Although the petition effort was too late to get the question on the November ballot, proponents were aiming for the April 2011 municipal election ballot.

A second petition effort to make the April election is still a possibility, Winkler said, and it's also still possible City Council may refer a similar question to voters.

Winkler's proposed ballot question would have asked: Shall the city of Glenwood Springs prohibit the operation of medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations, and medical marijuana-infused products manufacturers' licenses?

"I think some people thought the proposed question was too strong, as far as completely prohibiting dispensaries," Winkler said.

Others didn't want it to affect the seriously ill who they felt do benefit from the use of marijuana for medical purposes, she said.

"I don't believe that it would have," she said of what she believes was the primary intent behind Amendment 20, the ballot initiative approved by Colorado voters in 2000 legalizing medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions.

"There was some uncertainty what the outcome would be," Winkler said. "I don't know that it would have even affected the current [medical marijuana centers] anyway. That issue was kind of up in the air."

For now, she said she will encourage City Council to put the question to voters, or to at least regulate the industry within city limits in some way.

"We have 10 [dispensaries] in the city now, and one growing facility," she said. "I certainly don't think we need that many, especially near major retail outlets and store fronts."

Winkler said she heard of a new dispensary potentially opening in the Glenwood Springs Mall in West Glenwood.

"I'm pretty upset about that," she said. "This a retail mall where people shop, and where my kids go to the movies."

City Council is looking at a range of regulatory measures to control where medical marijuana distribution centers and grow operations can be located. Facilities would also have to be located a certain distance away from schools.

However, at a meeting in July to discuss the issue, council members were reluctant to go so far as to ask voters whether to prohibit such businesses altogether. Garfield County commissioners did recently decide to put a series of questions on the Nov. 2 ballot related to medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of the county. City Council is scheduled to resume its discussion on Sept. 16.">class="NormalParagraphStyle">

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The Post Independent Updated Aug 30, 2010 05:32PM Published Aug 27, 2010 12:12AM Copyright 2010 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.