Loveland voters will consider allowing medical and recreational marijuana businesses in November after the town's city council approved putting the question on the ballot.
During a meeting Tuesday, August 21, the Loveland City Council voted in favor of asking residents whether or not the town should legalize medical and recreational marijuana cultivations, dispensaries, extraction operations and testing and research facilities. Residents will also vote on a ballot question that would cap potential marijuana sales and excise taxes on recreational pot at 15 percent. That sales tax would be in addition to the city's standard 3 percent sales tax on non-marijuana purchases.
According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, councilmembers Steven Olson, Dave Clark and Don Overcash opposed the move, raising concerns over public health and social effects. Clark supported testing the waters of medical marijuana, but called the idea of collecting tax revenue from recreational pot "appalling."
Despite their objections, the council voted 6-3 in favor of putting the questions in front of voters. "We’ll see what the citizens have to say,” Clark said during the meeting.
Overcash, a former pharmacist, also took issue with allowing recreational marijuana sales within the town, comparing pot's societal effects to cigarettes and vaping tobacco.
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Loveland sits in Larimer County, where the majority of residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012. But Loveland residents voted against allowing medical marijuana businesses in 2010, and the city council banned recreational businesses in a 2013 vote.
Just one town in Larimer County, Fort Collins, currently allows commercial marijuana sales. In 2018, around a dozen Fort Collins dispensaries accounted for well over $7 million in sales per month, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.
With Fort Collins already in the fold and nearby Longmont (a town split between Boulder and Weld counties) allowing recreational sales in 2018, Loveland officials began wondering how much tax revenue they were missing out on. After initial projections of $4.4 million in annual tax revenue were found to be overinflated by city staff, a newer, tamer estimate of $1.5 million of yearly revenue was introduced before the vote.
The council has yet to finalize an implementation date if voters approve the measure in November.