Thu October 25, 2012

Fort Collins to Vote on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (Again)

While Coloradans will decide this November on the legalization of small amounts of marijuana, Fort Collins residents are also voting on whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate inside city limits.

Grace Hood reports for All Things Considered

Question 301 would repeal a ban passed by Fort Collins voters last year that effectively shuttered the cities 22 medical marijuana dispensaries. Proponents, including the group Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods, are hoping that the larger turnout during the presidential election will reverse last year’s decision.

“We’re a lot smaller than we were last year,” says Kirk Scramstad, a former dispensary owner who is spearheading the local effort. KUNC caught up with Scramstad while he was handing out “Yes on 301” yard signs at a recent event for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who’s a strong supporter of marijuana legalization.

“But this is a really great event that’s going to get awareness going for it.”

According to the Coloradoan each side is working with less than $10,000 to advocate their position. That means the messaging war is playing out NOT on TV, but on signs and leaflets.

“So basically it’s really low key marketing, I guess is a term,” says Scramstad.

If passed, the amendment would allow the 22 dispensaries that shut down last February to reopen. It would also pave the way for creating new centers. For every 500 patients in Fort Collins with medical marijuana cards, one new center could open. And that could help strengthen the tax base in Fort Collins, according to supporters.

“It doesn’t help the economy especially if they’re not reporting it and you have organized crime figures,” says former Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez, who heads up Vote Against 301. He says he’s also concerned about teen use of the drug.

“In fact they have easier access, more access and their value has changed to think well it’s safe,” he says. “And that’s just not true.”

Local school districts the Fort Collins City Council and the Larimer County Commissioners are not taking a formal position on Question 301. The Larimer County Sheriff and the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce are opposing the measure.