Yesterday, Mesa County Constitution Advocates' Cristin Groves predicted that a vote to prohibit medical-marijuana retail sales in Grand Junction would be close. Not really: The ban won 57 percent to 41 percent on the same day a similar measure passed in Castle Rock. Given that medical marijuana suffered more losses than wins among municipalities across the state last November, should we conclude that support for MMJ is waning?
Not at all, says Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, who chalks up these results to the timing of the votes.
"The reason that Grand Junction and Castle Rock banned was not because the majority of people are against dispensaries," he maintains. "It's because it was on an April electoral ballot, when very few people turn out, and the ones who do tend to be older and very conservative."
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In fact, the turnout in Grand Junction has been touted as a record for a city election; as of 3 p.m. yesterday, the total ballots received was reported as 13,100. But in the November 2010 election, votes cast in Mesa County, which Grand Junction dominates, were over 50,000 for most races. And while a proposal to ban MMJ centers in unincorporated Mesa County won the day, Vicente points out that "voters in the City of Grand Junction endorsed dispensaries. And six months later, people are banning them? It just shows that the voters are apathetic, and they didn't turn out on April 5."
Nonetheless, he continues, "I think most people in Grand Junction, and probably in Castle Rock, actually support safe access and dispensaries." With that in mind, he encourages advocates in those municipalities "to go through the ballot initiative process and gather signatures and place a measure on the ballot either this November or next November. Because I think they're going to win."
How does Grand Junction's Groves feel about that? Thus far, she hasn't returned calls for comment. When and if she responds, we'll update this post.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Rob Corry on denial of injunction against Loveland dispensary ban."