Parachute voters reject marijuana ban |

Parachute voters reject marijuana ban

Ryan Hoffman

Other results

All results are unofficial.

New Castle

Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing a non-exclusive franchise to a public service company for 20 years. Under the New Castle charter, the town cannot enter into a franchise with a duration of more than five years without voter approval. Xcel Energy had requested the 20-year franchise agreement, which allows it to use public rights-of-ways in exchange for a franchise fee.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved a question that would allow the town to participate in the telecommunications business.


Voters approved an amendment to the town charter limiting the mayor and trustees to three four-year terms in office.

Voters also approved a question that would allow the town to participate in the telecommunications business.


Voters narrowly approved a 3.5 percent excise tax on unprocessed retail marijuana sold or transferred from a marijuana cultivation facility, product manufacturing facility or retail store.

Voters also approved a question that would allow the town to participate in the telecommunications business.

Parachute voters Tuesday night answered a question more than a year in the making: Should the town prohibit the licensing and operation of retail marijuana businesses?

Their answer: no.

Voters in the Western Slope town of roughly 1,000 people overwhelmingly rejected the question, with unofficial results showing 207 opposing the ban and 84 voting in favor.

Voters also said yes to a 5 percent excise tax on manufactured retail and medical marijuana, as well as cultivated medical marijuana. Results showed 168 people voting in favor of the tax and 117 voting against it.

For those who see the marijuana industry as a short-term economic life raft needed by a town historically dependent on the fossil fuel industry, the results Tuesday drew a sigh of relief and signaled the end of a debate that has bubbled since the fall of 2015.

“It’s a huge relief … because there are so many unknowns and so much effort that would have gone into that and so much expenses. … I can’t even explain how big a relief it is,” Mayor Roy McClung said Tuesday night.

“I think that this issue is now going to become a non-issue and we can get back to business in the town.”

Tuesday’s vote came more than 16 months after the Board of Trustees voted to overturn the town’s ban and open the doors to the marijuana industry, a move that led to contentious exchanges between some residents and some board members at meetings in the months following the vote.

Tuesday’s vote also came nearly seven months after voters rejected an opposition effort to recall the mayor and several trustees who voted to repeal the marijuana ban.

Parachute resident Pam Jarrett, who helped lead the recall effort and the petition effort that put the marijuana question on the ballot, was less concerned with the results Tuesday. What matters, she said, is that there were results.

“I feel like it is important to have our right to vote preserved, and I felt it was worth fighting for,” Jarrett said Tuesday night.

With voters finally deciding the issue, Jarrett, who personally opposed allowing marijuana businesses in Parachute, said the issue is now a done deal for her.

“I feel really good that the people got to vote on it,” she said.

Had voters opted to reinstate the ban, it would have put the town in the position of prohibiting an existing industry. The town has approved eight marijuana licensees, and four marijuana businesses are already up and running, according to Town Manager Stuart McArthur.

Those at Town Hall previously indicated there would be a legal argument for grandfathering in existing businesses. However, the licenses would not be able to transfer ownership.

Year-to-date sales tax dollars received through September were up 1 percent, according to town numbers. However, that minimal improvement is largely due to a $49,550 reimbursement to Cingular Wireless paid in August, according to an October report prepared by McArthur. Without that payment, the year-to-date collections would be up nearly 9 percent.

Of the $87,840 received in September, $26,264 was from the sale of recreational marijuana, according to McArthur.

Aside from limits on tax revenues from marijuana businesses, had voters approved the ban it would have cast a cloud over the town as an unfriendly place for businesses in general, McClung previously said.

Now, with the issue decided, the town can go out and share that it’s open for business and not just marijuana businesses, McClung said.

“I just expect good things to come from this. I expect to see more businesses coming to the table.”

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