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Medical marijuana ban in El Paso County losing narrowly -- but final result could take weeks

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Earlier today, info from Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente suggested that a medical marijuana dispensary ban in El Paso County was ahead by a handful of votes. Now, it appears to be losing by a narrow margin -- but Vote No on 1A spokesman Mike Elliott doesn't expect final results anytime soon.

"It could take quite some time," Elliott says. "We've been at the county clerk's office this morning, and it looks like there's about 4,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted -- they're going to be counting them today. And there might also be some overseas ballots. But this process could take days to possibly even a couple of weeks to finalize. It is extremely close."

Even so, Elliott feels momentum is flowing in the "No" direction: "We were about 2,000 votes down at about 10:30 or 11 last night, and we crept our way back up and took the lead," which he's heard is in the range of 350 votes. "And we think the provisional ballots are probably going in our favor. We're not sure about the overseas ballots, or even how many of them there are. But we're optimistic."

Indeed, Elliott continues, "we feel this is a victory at this point. We're not declaring victory, but we're extremely excited that public opinion has turned on this issue. We're excited about getting our message out there about defending the rights of medical marijuana patients, and protecting jobs and the local economy."

Another factor that may have weighed in favor of the "No" forces, he believes, is the possibility that the county could be liable if it shutters previously legal dispensaries -- a theory floated in this space by attorney Bob Hoban, who represented a number of El Paso County entrepreneurs in a failed attempt to prevent a vote on 1A from being counted before a court could consider the measure's legality.

"In case we lose, the legal battle is going forward," Elliott maintains, "and El Paso County could be stuck with high damages to the industry. Forcing businesses to shut down could be a violation of the takings law, and the county might have to compensate all these business owners to the tune of millions and millions of dollars." He adds, "we've heard about a lot of folks who've been changing their minds about 1A in recent weeks when they found out how much it could potentially cost."

This issue will be moot, of course, if 1A goes down to defeat -- but Elliott can't predict when El Paso County residents will find out for certain. "We're waiting," he says.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana lawsuit: Jessica Corry on why dispensary ban shouldn't be on El Paso ballot."

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