The Western Slope's largest city is jumping aboard the legal weed train.
In an April 6 election, around 58 percent of Grand Junction voters approved a ballot question proposing that the city roll back a ban on marijuana businesses, according to unofficial final results, while approximately 55 percent voted in favor of an 8.25 percent special sales tax on local marijuana sales in the future.
The marijuana tax ballot initiative, which is required under the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights, allows the Grand Junction City Council to raise the local marijuana sales tax rate from 8.25 percent up to 10 percent without additional voter approval; it also levies a 3 percent tax on wholesale marijuana sales. The city anticipates collecting an estimated $2.9 million in new taxes during the first fiscal year of sales, with that revenue slated to fund improvements at recreational areas and facilities, including outdoor trails and open spaces.
A popular stop for travelers on I-70 and U.S. Route 50, Grand Junction has never allowed recreational marijuana sales, and has banned medical dispensaries since 2010.
The Grand Junction City Planning Commission has suggested that the city limit itself to six dispensary locations, all of which would have to be at least 500 feet from schools. Cultivations, infused-product manufacturers and one marijuana testing facility would also be allowed within city limits, with businesses able to apply for both medical and recreational licenses.
Although in the past the Grand Junction City Council had voted down bills that would have allowed outdoor cultivations, delivery and hospitality businesses, those regulations weren't finalized — and new, progressive councilmembers were also elected this week.
Voters in eight more Colorado towns had approved allowing retail marijuana sales in the November 2020 election, as municipalities look for more forms of revenue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the majority of those efforts were promoted by the marijuana industry, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that the industry "didn’t play much of a part in pushing the two Grand Junction measures."
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