Medical marijuana ban in Broomfield? Official thinks city council, not voters, should decide

Earlier this week, the city council in Broomfield, where a moratorium on medical marijuana businesses is about to expire, voted a ban forward by a 5-4 margin. If it passes on a second reading, July 27, it becomes law.

Why not put such a measure on the November ballot? Broomfield councilwoman Linda Reynolds thinks that'd be passing the buck.

"We were elected as officials to represent our constituents," Reynolds points out, "and sometimes, elected officials put things on the ballot in order not to make those decisions -- and I don't think that's right. We were elected to make those decisions, and some of them are tough decisions."

If the Broomfield council prohibits dispensaries and the like, it'll join a growing trend. As noted in this Boulder Daily Camera article, nearby Superior passed such a ban in June, a couple of weeks after Vail did the same.

In contrast, Aurora's city council chose to let voters decide on a medical marijuana business ban, despite the community's reputation for being MMJ unfriendly. A recent Aurora Police Department sting operation aimed at a medical marijuana doctor angered advocates, although Chief Dan Oates insists it was an isolated incident, not the start of a campaign targeting physicians who dare to recommend cannabis.

The City of Broomfield, too, has sent a clear message that ganjapreneurs will find no welcome mat there via the moratorium and numerous busts of marijuana grows.

As for Reynolds, she says her vote to push the measure forward shouldn't be construed as support for a ban. She simply felt it was important to move the ordinance to the next stage, in order to "give the citizens an opportunity to go on the record either for or against it."

In her view, what are the pros and cons of a Broomfield ban?

"I suppose the pros in favor of the ban would be less crime -- because crime has been associated with this," she maintains. "There's also the recommendation of the police department, as well as the district attorney. And Broomfield is a very hometown kind of community, as you saw in Money magazine. We were number nineteen" -- on a list of the best places to live in the U.S. -- "and we're very proud of that. And a ban would help in that area."

Reynolds's collection of cons is considerably shorter.

"Those who are against the ban like the convenience of having them right in the community -- but I'm not sure that outweighs the negatives of having dispensaries," she says. "There are those few who actually need it. But the DA told us that prior to finding this loophole in the law, there were only 2,000 licenses statewide, and now there's over 200,000. It leads you to wonder, why would all of these twenty-year olds need this? And the average age is getting lower.

"For all these young people to suddenly have such excruciating pain, and to think the only thing that will solve it is marijuana -- even though you can get pills that have the same effect as marijuana in any pharmacy," she adds, referencing Marinol.

Should the council approve the ban, citizens could respond with a petition drive. If they collect 1,283 votes within thirty days of the law's enactment, the Daily Camera reports, the council would either have to junk the measure or put it on the ballot.

Were the ballot in question to be the main one in November, "it wouldn't be that big of a deal as far as cost goes," Reynolds says. If the vote was pushed back to a special election next year, though, "that could be a little costly," she concedes. "But I think we could do it by mail -- and I don't think cost is something this should be judged on. I think the whole thing is a moral issue."

Regarding the likelihood of the council to put a ban in place, Reynolds says that prior to this week's meeting, "I thought I had a pretty good idea where everyone would lean, and it was a 5-4 vote, which was very surprising. It could go either way."

Whatever happens, Reynolds is upset by what she sees as the vagueness of Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in Colorado.

"I think it's a shame that the state allowed something to go to the ballot that was so unclear in the beginning, and that they had to try and clarify," she says. "And I don't think the courts have done a lot of justice in trying to clarify it."

Reynolds hopes she and her colleagues will do a better job for the citizens of Broomfield.