Medical marijuana advocates collecting petitions to overturn Fort Collins ban

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The dispensary ban has been "financially devastating" for former owners, Belkin notes. "These are people who've put hundreds of thousands of dollars into their businesses, and they've lost everything. And not only have these businesses been hurt, but patients who rely on and need medical cannabis no longer have access in Fort Collins.

"In the previous campaign, there was a lot of misinformation disseminated -- misinformation that appealed to people's stereotypes about crime rates going up and kids having access to medical cannabis, which is absolutely not true. If anything, the ban drives it underground, back into the alleys. Which is why the UFCW and the owners in Fort Collins are committed to having a medical cannabis industry that is regulated, controlled, creates a safe environment for patients, and is taxed."

This last factor is particularly key during these tight economic times, Belkin feels. "I think Fort Collins is losing close to $500,000 a year in taxes alone -- and that's one of the reasons Local 7 has been involved. It's about jobs. Walmart comes into town and creates 400 jobs and there's a big splash, even though they're poverty-wage jobs. But in Fort Collins, almost that many jobs have been lost, and they were jobs that paid decent wages. So this is really a job issue."

Supporters of the measure must collect 4,214 valid signatures for it to reach the ballot, and Belkin is confident they'll accomplish this goal -- after which the campaign will begin in earnest.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work and the maximum involvement of the people in the movement and the industry in Fort Collins," he says. "And Local 7 isn't going anywhere. We'll be here -- and we'll be back."

Look below to see a video about the petition drive launch from Northern Colorado 5.

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana workers joining UFCW Local 7: Is weed a growth area for unions?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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