Yesterday, voters in the communities of Lyons, Fruita and Crawford voted about whether to allow medical marijuana retail sales -- and the results were mixed.
Lyons okayed dispensaries, while Crawford and Fruita nixed them even though neither is home to such a business at this time.
As reported by the Boulder Daily Camera, Lyons has three dispensaries, and all of them will be able to stick around. The vote was 369 in favor of the ban, 425 against, and turnout was quite robust for a local springtime election. The 812 mail-in ballots returned, from a total of 1,417 sent out, represents 57 percent of the total.
By coincidence, 57 percent of Fruita voters weighed in as well, but they came to the opposite conclusion by quite a wide margin. KJCT-TV notes that 2,044 supported the ban, while just 754 opposed it. Fruita doesn't currently have a dispensary, although one could have opened there legally prior to the vote. Now, medical marijuana patients in Mesa County, the most populous county on the Western Slope, have only one MMC to patronize: Colorado Alternative Health Care in Palisade, which gave a thumbs-up to the business in the November 2011 election.
The grand opening of Colorado Alternative Care in Palisade.
And Crawford? Town clerk Jackie Savage says the ban won 57-45. According to her, the community's sole dispensary was shut down about a year ago, with local officials subsequently putting a moratorium in place until an election could be held. Now, thanks to the twelve-vote margin, no new MMC can open its doors there.
What's the takeaway from these results? A mixed one, according to Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente.
"As per our medical marijuana code, communities across the state can vote to restrict or ban medical marijuana stores at any time," he points out. "Even though Denver has a full-fledged and strong regulatory structure in place, the city could vote to shut down dispensaries at any time."
Even so, he believes "we're seeing a trend toward Coloradans accepting and embracing the medical marijuana distribution system. If you look at a place like Lyons, the campaign on the ground did a good job of demonstrating to voters the positive aspects that medical marijuana businesses bring to the community: job creation, increased tax revenue and, most importantly, access to medicine for sick patients. I think Coloradans are really seeing that across the state -- seeing the benefits this new industry can bring."
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Could Fort Collins ban lead to hundreds of new home grows?"