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Town Board Unites To Reject Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
It was a divided board of trustees that took their seats on Dec. 8 to begin a public hearing on Orchard City's proposed medical marijuana ordinance. Two of the trustees had expressed opposition to the measure, two were leaning favorably towards it, and two others, in the public comments they had made, were undecided on the issue.

But, after an hour and a half of public testimony which strongly opposed medical marijuana businesses in the town, the town board became a united front in opposition, and voted 6-0 to defeat the proposed ordinance that would have allowed a single medical marijuana dispensary and commercial growing operation in the town.

Along the way, board members heard much about the many other frighteningly complex issues that are raised when trying to legalize, regulate and limit marijuana use.

Orchard City Mayor Don Suppes had announced before the public hearing began, and he repeated afterward, that if the measure failed that night there would be an ordinance banning all medical marijuana businesses offered for first reading on Jan. 12. If that ordinance is adopted on second reading in February, Orchard City would join Cedaredge and the county government in permanently banning medical marijuana establishments from their jurisdictions.

No one at the town board's meeting who spoke against or voted against the ordinance denied that marijuana's effects have medical value in some instances. Most expressed compassion for those who need the plant or its derivatives for pain relief, sleep and appetite control, and many said they are not opposed to marijuana use for medical purposes.

But other factors have tilted public opinion against a medical marijuana dispensary in the town. Those factors included the confusing hodge-podge of state and federal policies, concern with an unregulated marijuana culture of purely recreational use that has tied itself to medical uses of the plant, and the fact that medical marijuana is already available to legitimate medical patients who require it.

Some opponents at the meeting also said the monoply-granting provision of the town's proposed ordinance was wrong.

Following is a representative sampling of comments that were presented to trustees during the Dec. 8 public hearing:

Beverly Moore said she was "very opposed" to the ordinance. Though not opposed to medical marijuana, she said it should be distributed through pharmacies.

Flora Fox faulted the town dispensary for bringing increased traffic to their residential neighborhood. She read a statement from her husband, Michael, who also strongly opposed the ordinance and its monopoly-granting provision, and who urged defeat of the ordinance and adoption of a ban.

Brenda Holland said the proposed ordinance "is kind of un-American," adding, "Why do we want to make a special law for one person?"

Wayne Moore said that having a marijuana growing and retail sales in a residential area "has the potential" to attract an undesirable element. He submitted a petition with names of opponents of the proposed ordinance.

Tom Holland said he had noticed an increase of "young people in their 20s" driving in the dispensary's neighborhood. Neighbors received no notification the business was going in, he said. If allowed, the dispensary would only draw increased traffic because so many other jurisdictions are banning the businesses, he said.

Walt Hass said he was "totally opposed" to the ordinance. A dispensary is not needed in the area, he said, adding that, "It brings worse things."

Nick Larkin who said he is the dispensary's next door neighbor, was neither for nor opposed to the ordinance. He said he has not seen increased traffic in the area.

Barbara Larkin said she was opposed to the town board making a decision that the residents of town themselves "are capable of voting on."

Verlin Rockey stated his opposition to the proposed ordinance. The dispensary/grow operation in town is very different than the other home-based businesses that operate under Orchard City low-regulation business regimen. He said he was "not sure we need the influence" of having the dispensary/grow operation located 600 feet away from where his six grandchildren live.

Toni Chatto said that she "doesn't like monopolies."

A resident of Cactus Park explained how she uses marijuana derived tinctures, salves and oils to relieve pain. The medications also help her sleep. "Which is better," she asked, "buying from (the Orchard City dispensary) or growing marijuana among my tomatoes?"

A resident of Cedar Mesa told the trustees that both he and his wife use medical marijuana, but that neither smokes it. A military veteran, he said he can get 150 to 200 medical marijuana pills for free each month, but that he prefers to use the ointments to help with his numerous illnesses.

Evan Cummings, a neighborhood resident and a middle school teacher, urged the trustees to defeat the ordinance, and then to have a special election on the issue.

Two other proponents of medical marijuana described several ailments they treat with substances derived form the plant. They said the ointments and other products eliminate unpleasant and harmful side effects of more powerful pharmaceuticals.

Bea Hass said she was totally opposed to the ordinance, and that medical marijuana should be sold in pharmacies.

Jerry Roseau, neighbor of the dispensary, said that if medical marijuana is to be legalized, then the federal Food and Drug Administration should be the agency to do so. There is much prescription fraud in Denver to obtain the drug, and he added that he manages his own pain without medical marijuana.

Ken Updegrove, who lives north of Cedaredge, is a retired deputy district attorney from Utah. He said that 80 to 90 percent of all crime is alcohol or drug related. In his experience of prosecuting hundreds of cases, he said that marijuana use leads to the use of harder and harder drugs.

Updegrove pointed out that Orchard City lacks sufficient municipal law enforcement institutions to deal with problems caused by people wanting marijuana, and who "will try and get it by hook or by crook."

The final speaker of the hearing was the owner of Grand Mesa Herbal Dispensary, Jay Deason. He said his business is located in a secure site, and that he would comply with any laws. He said his dispensary was broken into once when it was located on Highway 65.

Deason said he had been a resident of Orchard City for 17 years, that his dispensary had operated since the fall of 2009, and that he had solved tax problems with his business property, previously reported on in the Delta County Independent.

With the public hearing closed, the town trustees moved quickly on a motion by Gale Doudy that the question of the town's medical marijuana ordinance be put to a vote.

During trustee discussion of the motion, Mayor Suppes said he had researched the town's vote on the original Amendment 20 that established medical marijuana as legal in Colorado in 2000. The town's two precincts had opposed that measure by a near 70-30 margin he said.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Delta County Independent
Author: Hank Lohmeyer
Contact: Delta County Independent
Copyright: 2010 Delta County Independent
Website: Town board unites to reject medical marijuana dispensary ordinance
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