The second reading of Weld County commissioners’ ban on pot stores and manufacturing facilities brought forth a handful of residents Wednesday who spoke for and against the measure.
Some questioned why commissioners went forward with prohibiting retail marijuana when Amendment 64 passed in Weld County, others applauded them for minding federal law and others simply wanted to know the specifics of the ordinance.
“What I would say to this board today … is be open to allowing businesses and people to use it,” said JoAnn Maes of Gilcrest.
Maes said she was concerned that commissioners disregarded voters in Weld County who narrowly approved the amendment, which allows the possession and consumption of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Weld County as a whole approved the amendment, but voters in unincorporated Weld County did not,
commissioners said. They said that number matters more because municipalities have the power to decide what to do about retail marijuana facilities within their own borders.
“We are not prohibiting the use of marijuana, only the facilities,” said Weld County commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.
She said prohibiting the shops now is easier and more fair than waiting until they have already sprouted up, which is what happened with medical marijuana in Weld County.
Some, including Lynette Kilpatrick of La Salle, said she would have liked to see marijuana banned in its entirety. The effects of the substance are profound, she said, and detrimental to mental and physical health. But, commissioners explained, they only have the power to ban stores and cultivation facilities under the amendment.
Another resident said he would have liked to see commissioners join together with the state and address the will of voters at the state level.
“The governor himself was opposed to Amendment 64, but once it passed, he got behind it,” he said.
Commissioners also said it’s premature to count on financial benefits in the state because under TABOR, Colorado voters must approve taxes on marijuana. In addition, Weld County has no sales tax, meaning the county would not bring in revenue in that way, they said.
Weld commissioner Doug Rademacher clarified that industrial hemp is legal in Weld County, but no one has been known to grow it because there is no demand, he said.
And despite President Barack Obama’s remarks that marijuana use is not a top priority for federal prosecutors, Weld commissioner Bill Garcia said he expects federal courts to intervene.
“It sounds like you’re taking a step that’s necessary,” said Clinton Piez of Greeley. “As we go along, I’m going to be watching what you guys are doing.”