Mesa County Commissioners lean toward ban of commercial pot sales |

Mesa County Commissioners lean toward ban of commercial pot sales

With the recent statewide adoption of Amendment 64 — a ground-breaking move toward regulations that allow for marijuana to be sold, taxed and smoked legally (by those 21 and older) despite federal regulations still barring the substance from the general public — cities and towns across Colorado now must decide how to regulate a blossoming trade fraught with ambiguity and distrust.

And on Monday, July 15, Mesa County Commissioners threw their hat in the ring by taking an initial stance against pot shops. In a first reading of an ordinance at a public meeting, commissioners moved to ban any commercial growing operations, retail pot shops and marijuana testing facilities in unincorporated Mesa County.

“The first reading is the process in which (commissioners) create an ordinance,” Mesa County Public Information Officer Ryan Cook said. “Ordinances don’t happen very often in the county.”

Cook added that the next step will be to publish a copy of the proposed ordinance in The Daily Sentinel. Then, at a date yet to be determined, there will be a second reading of the ordinance with time for public comment.

Though commercial sales of marijuana would potentially create a tax boom for the county if allowed, Cook said commissioners feel strongly that the majority of voters in the district do not want pot shops within Mesa County borders. It is possible, however, that strong public comment supporting pot shops and the resulting sales tax could potentially sway the county.

“It’s not decided yet,” Cook said, until the ordinance is approved in a second reading.

Mesa County, along with Grand Junction and Fruita, also chose to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Palisade has one medical marijuana dispensary.

“The municipalities will be able to chose their own directions” on commercial pot shops, Cook noted.

Grand Junction spokeswoman Sam Rainguet confirmed that GJ City Council will additionally be discussing Amendment 64 in the coming weeks, though no date is set for work sessions yet.

According to Fruita’s City Manager Clint Kinney, “the City Council has asked the City Attorney to draft an ordinance banning the commercial stores. The draft ordinance has not been completed yet.”

And Palisade’s Town Administrator Rich Sales said, “we have a moratorium we set months ago on smoke rooms and clubs.”

Since then, Palisade’s government has taken the wait-and-see approach while information about Amendment 64 continues to be released.

“We will continue to research,” Sales said.

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