Update: Earlier this week, we told you about a recount in a recreational-marijuana vote for Palisade, on Colorado's Western Slope. The measure was behind by four votes, but eighteen ballots were in dispute and might possibly reverse the outcome; see our previous coverage below.
Now, the count is official, and the margin of defeat actually increased slightly, to six votes. However, the co-owner of the community's only medical marijuana dispensary, which had planned to add recreational sales, sees positives in the results.
According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the final tally was 541 nays to 535 yeahs.
The previous numbers had shown the measure losing 529-524. However, the Sentinel reports that 22 ballots -- up from the previously announced eighteen -- were eventually "cured." The majority had been excluded due to signature discrepancies.
Desa Loughman, co-owner of Colorado Alternative Health Care, the only MMJ dispensary in Palisade and the immediate Grand Junction area, clearly wishes the vote had gone differently. However, the post she shared on Facebook is hardly downbeat. It reads:
Every vote counts! I can't tell you how many people told me their vote didn't count & didn't feel like voting while we were campaigning. Or we won medically so recreational will pass. But the only way for something to pass is to vote! This situation proves just how important it is to vote! Not just for this topic but for every question & every time you vote it changes your community. Voting is powerful & a privilege!
Thank you everyone for your support! We still won in my opinion by the voter turn out which was over 1,000 people when less then 400 people voted in April. I love our community, our diversity, our love of Palisade & all our supporters who keep me going:)
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Continue for our previous coverage, including a video.
Original post, 9:50 a.m. November 7: As our William Breathes reported earlier this week, Manitou Springs voters approved recreational marijuana sales in their town, while residents of other communities turned thumbs-down. The folks in Palisade, on Colorado's Western Slope, are somewhere in-between on the issue, at least for now. A recreational-pot measure appeared to narrowly lose, but that result could be reversed depending on what happens with eighteen disputed ballots. Photos, video and details below. Many communities on the Western Slope, including Grand Junction, have nixed marijuana outlets, be they medical or recreational. However, Palisade has long been an outlier. Back in 2011, we reported about the town's rejection of an MMJ ban that would have nixed its only dispensary, Colorado Alternative Health Care. Desa Loughman, CAHC's owner, suggested at the time that her business received support because of its low-key approach.
"We definitely try to set ourselves apart," she said. "When we advertise, we avoid all the skinny little girls with pot leaves on their chest -- the things that don't say 'medicinal' -- and try to stay away from all the negative stereotypes that fall onto our industry."
Now, Loughman would like to add recreational sales to the mix. But two linked ballot measures that would have allowed such a transition appeared to fall short during Tuesday's election. KJCT reports the current tally at 525 for, 529 against -- a difference of four votes.
But that's not the final word.
According to the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, eighteen votes from Palisade remain unopened because of questions regarding signatures. Either they lack such scrawls entirely or there's another discrepancy.
These ballots aren't simply being tossed or disregarded. Instead, each of the eighteen voters is being contacted in an effort to "cure" the ballots -- meaning to get them up to legal specifications.
The impacted voters have until November 12 to respond. After that, the properly cured ballots will be opened and counted, and the resulting tally will either allow recreational marijuana sales in Palisade, as in Manitou Springs, or prohibit it, as is the case with communities such as Ouray and Lakewood.
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Continue to see the KJCT report about the delayed count.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.