Tuesday’s Montrose City Council agenda had plenty of interesting items on it.
But maybe the most interesting was an ordinance related to retail marijuana sales.
The wording: “Consideration of… an ordinance of the City of Montrose, Colorado, authorizing the submission of a ballot question to the voters… for the purpose of imposing an excise tax on the retail sale of marijuana…”
Council took the item off the agenda near the last minute, effectively ensuring the question of retail marijuana staying off the ballot for the April municipal election.
The reason the ordinance was on the agenda in the first place, however, wasn’t because the city was looking to make a decision on retail marijuana sales (that’s within their power to do).
It was because late last year, a cannabis dealer approached the city with interest in getting enough signatures to get a ballot item on the agenda.
“A marijuana retailer in the state, and other locations, came to the city and said, ‘Hey, we might want to do a citizens petition to put retail marijuana on your city ballot in April,’” Mayor Barbara Bynum told the Business Times Wednesday. “We got legal involved, and the city worked with them to create a valid citizen petition form so they could do that.”
But nothing ever came of it, Bynum said.
They had until Monday to file the petition. Because legal wanted to make sure the retailers had until the deadline, the city put the item on the agenda just in case.
“I never heard anyone in Montrose saying, ‘Did you see that outside of City Market, trying to get signatures?,” Bynum said. “So they went through the preliminary work of approaching the city and working with the legal department on what that would look like. And then and then seem to have not decided not to do it.”
None of this is to say the city is necessarily opposed to retail marijuana sales.
The issue previously went to voters, and it was rejected, however.
“Should someone approach the city, the city would make sure it would be done legally,” Bynum said. “We talked about the potential that someone would come and want this on the ballot, and that we should be prepared to work with them on that.”
Last fall, Delta City Council voted to draft language to get retail marijuana on the ballot for their own April municipal election.
They previously rejected a similar measure in 2018, but voters will have the chance to approve the measure this go-around.
For now, Montrose voters won’t have the issue brought back to them.
Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012.
Grand Junction recently saw the opening of its first dispensary in city limits.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 970-765-0915 or mobile at 254-246-2260.