LETTER: Mesa County commissioners wrong on pot shop decision
August 22, 2013
Amendment 64 allows Coloradoans over the age of 21 to legally grow six marijuana plants with three flowering. Each plant can produce at least a pound of high quality marijuana with a street value of $220 per ounce in Mesa County. The crop from six plants is worth $21,120.00 on Mesa County's black market. Some will see this as a way to make tax-free, unrecorded money thereby expanding the black market.
Not all consumers of recreational marijuana want to or can grow his or her own. Amendment 64 provides for retail shops for recreational marijuana. The shops will be tightly regulated with "from seed to sale" monitoring by the state. Licensing fees of up to $14,000 and a 25% sales tax will pay for monitoring. Retail outlets provide a place for those not growing their own to legally purchase pot.
The Mesa County Board of Commissioners recently voted unanimously to prohibit retail sales of recreational marijuana and associated activities within unincorporated Mesa County. Speaking on behalf of the board, Commissioner Acquafresca explained, "With recreational retail facilities throughout the county, we would even see more illegal use and abuse on the part of young people under the age of 21." He didn't say why this would be so.
Minors will obtain marijuana — a reality. Their most likely source will be an unregulated black market not tightly regulated retail shops. But retail shops could indirectly regulate the black market by providing a legal source for consumers to obtain pot, reducing demand on the black market.
The Board of Commissioners decision to prohibit retail sales did away with any chance to impact Mesa County's black market for recreational marijuana.
It's hard to know what motivates politicians — their trade is inherently dishonest. Are the commissioners trying to put the marijuana genie back in the lamp? Are they trying to make the situation as bad as possible as part of a Conservative Christian plan to repeal 64? Are they under-educated and incapable of critical thought?
If sincere about the welfare of our children it seems to me that the commissioners should concern themselves with the hundreds of children abused annually, year after year, in Mesa County and not some nebulous and cynical political expedient.
John Jenkins, Ph.D.