Medical marijuana dispensary owner Steve Ackerman's been in the spotlight a lot this week. Organic Alternatives, his MMC, is among several in Fort Collins that have been organized by UFCW Local 7. And he continues to lead the campaign against Question 300, a proposed medical marijuana resale ban in Fort Collins. Right now, his side has a big fundraising lead, but he still sees ban fighters as underdogs.
Why? Because during off-year elections, younger voters of the sort who might be expected to support dispensaries are far outnumbered by older ones apt to view them with antipathy. And there are other reasons for concern, too. The November 1 election is of the mail-in variety, and only active voters received ballots -- an approach beloved by Secretary of State Scott Gessler but derided by the ACLU, which considers it a form of tactical vote suppression.
So, too, does Ackerman. "There are thousands of registered voters who are considered inactive in Fort Collins, and they're not going to get a ballot," he says. "If every voter got a ballot, they'd be able to make the right decision and be able to keep our community safe. But they're unlikely to get one."
Inactive voters -- ones who may have voted in 2008, but not in 2010 -- "can still vote," Ackerman emphasizes. "But we need to get to those people" so they can directly request a ballot from the Larimer County Clerk's office. "And that takes a lot of resources."
Hence, the emphasis on fundraising. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, two groups opposing the ban -- Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods and Families for Safe, Secure and Regulated Access -- have collectively raised more than $108,000, with somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,000 coming from the United Food and Commercial Workers -- a cash influx that likely explains in part why owners of the aforementioned dispensaries were open to worker unionization. In contrast, Concerned Fort Collins Citizens, the ban proponents, have raised a little under $14,000.
That disparity may lead some observers to conclude that the ban is doomed -- but Ackerman isn't among them.
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"As far as I can tell, it's going to be very close," he says. "We're just doing the best we can to make sure people who are against 300 get their voices heard and their votes counted."
After all, he adds, "what happens in Fort Collins will reflect on the model that's in place right now -- and its future."
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana fundraiser in Denver aims to fight proposed Fort Collins MMC ban, ignorance."