By Ron Crumpton
GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO – On Monday Night, the Grand Junction City Council voted 6-1 to approve a ban on dispensaries and all commercial sales of marijuana within city limits.
The six members of the council, who voted in favor of the ban, stated that their two main reasons were that Colorado law fails to regulate dispensaries effectively, and that amendment 20 – the initiative approved by voters legalizing medical marijuana – never intended for dispensaries to exist.
|G.J.'s only voice of reason, Mayor Teresa Coons|
“This isn’t an emotional issue. We’ve prepared for this,” said Cat Coughran, who represents 17 of Grand Junction’s 23 dispensaries through the nonprofit group Mesa County Constitution Advocates. “This outcome is not a shock to us.”
Of the 60 or more present at the meeting, most were there to oppose the ban. They believe that the ban causes more problems than it solves because closing dispensaries does not limit people’s ability to grow marijuana, it only prevents patients from purchasing it in a safe environment.
There were a few who spoke in favor of the ban. One resident argued that of the 2000 patients in Mesa County, not all suffered from terminal illness, which is not a requirement of Amendment 20. Another was convinced that dispensaries increased availability to children.
Mayor Teresa Coons and other members stated that if several issues were resolved on the state level, there would be room to revisit the dispensary issue in the future.
The ban requires dispensaries to close their doors by January 1, 2010, but the Grand Junction Sentinel reports that dispensaries are prepared to fight the measure. They plan to petition the council to reconsider and they could push for the issue to be put to voters or challenge the ban in court.
Mayor Coons vote was the only vote against the ban.
“I am concerned that we’ve taken the prohibition approach,” she proclaimed. “I don’t think it worked in the past and I’m not sure it will in the future.”