Last week, the Loveland city clerk declared the petition effort 66 valid signatures short of the 2,888 needed to qualify for a citywide election. Although marijuana-industry proponents have asked members of the Loveland City Council to consider putting the ordinance on the November ballot themselves, that request has been taken off the agenda for the council meeting tonight, September 1.
These weren't the only obstacles that initiative co-sponsors Autumn Todd and Tom Wilczynski, a co-owner of the Fort Collins dispensary Smokey's 420 House, have faced as they tried to put the question before voters. They'd announced their initial petition drive in April, but in late June, Loveland City Clerk Patti Garcia informed the campaign organizers that they had only collected 2,142 valid signatures by the original ninety-day deadline and would have to start over if they wanted to make the November ballot. Instead, Wilczynski sued the City of Loveland, alleging that Garcia denied additional signatures in support of the marijuana initiative before the deadline had passed and that she'd misled them regarding the amount of time they had to collect petition signatures.
A District Court judge declined to hear the case, however, explaining that the matter was out of the court's jurisdiction. After that decision came down, the city agreed to consider another 1,808 signatures filed by the campaign, in addition to the original 2,142. But it still wasn't enough.
Colorado pot laws give local governments the right to ban or allow marijuana businesses ranging from grows to medical marijuana dispensaries to recreational stores, and Loveland currently bans all of them. Residents, though, displayed mixed opinions regarding the cannabis industry. In 2010, voters chose to ban medical marijuana businesses (Wilczynski had an MMJ license for Loveland at the time and eventually had to close his business), while 51 percent of Loveland residents voted in favor of statewide legalization in 2012 — but last year, a marijuana sales ballot question failed in in the town, with less than 49 percent of voters in favor of allowing recreational sales.