Crawford resident, council at odds over marijuana

By Tamie Meck


A Crawford resident's ongoing attempts to convince town council to allow a marijuana business to operate in town continues to cause turmoil. His request, repeated at the Sept. 22 council meeting, resulted in name-calling, heated arguments, and a trustee walking out in protest of comments made by her fellow trustees.

Jay Ziegler has appeared before town council several times in recent months to urge an end to the town's moratorium on marijuana businesses. Speaking under the public non-agenda items segment of the meeting, Ziegler asked council to reconsider a 2011 draft ordinance that would allow for the licensing and regulation of a medicinal marijuana business within the town. The ordinance originally failed by a 4-3 vote.

Ziegler opened a licensed medical marijuana business in Crawford in January, 2010. In February of that year, council declared "such businesses to be a nuisance," and Ziegler was ordered to close his business by July 1, 2011.

"I'm asking you again, would the council please take a real serious look at licensing a marijuana store here?" said Ziegler. He told council that he did more than $100,000 in the year his business was opened. The sales tax income, said Ziegler, could help make up for lost mineral taxes, prevent future water and sewer rates increases, and would also provide income if the mill levy increase on this November's ballot fails.

Ziegler commended Trustee Tammy Broughton, a caregiver who works with terminally ill patients. At the "meet the candidates forum" in March, Broughton stated that while she's never seen or tried marijuana, she isn't opposed to a medical facility. Ziegler reminded council that Broughton received more votes than any of the candidates.

Ziegler also ran for council and was not elected.

Following completion of agenda items, trustee John Paton addressed Ziegler. "Since you are so bound and determined that the financial future of the town and the North Fork Valley is contingent on marijuana, between taxes and the mill levy and food, clothing and shelter, how are people going to have enough money to buy marijuana?"

Ziegler replied that people in town grow their own because of the high prices and the economic situation. People would come from within the 80-mile radius between Carbondale, Ridgway and De Beque, where stores already exist, rather than travel to those towns.

Trustee Hetty Todd commented that if the town has a marijuana business, it will also need a municipal court. Ziegler replied by assuring trustees that the industry is highly regulated.

Paton told Ziegler he's concerned about the dangers the drug poses to children.

"I agree with you," replied Ziegler, a former crisis intervention specialist with Phoenix Hospital in Arizona. "We need to keep all drugs out of the hands of children until they're 21." Until then, he said, they need to be educated as to what all drugs will do to them. "Tobacco kills a half a million Americans each year. Alcohol? We have drive-through liquor stores in this county. That kills, on average, 150,000 Americans each year."

"Where is your justification for this," said Paton. "I mean, it isn't there. I don't need money that bad. The town doesn't need money that bad."

Trustee Broughton said council members would be "appalled at how many people already grow their own, prompting mayor pro tem Mike Tiedeman to ask Ziegler how he can make money if everyone is growing it.

Broughton then told trustees they need to go on the Internet "and do some research about what marijuana does for people."

With several trustees arguing at once, Broughton stood up and called trustees "blind" before walking out of the meeting.

"Don't come back," said Paton.

"Oh, I will be back, John," said Broughton.

"Don't bother," said Paton.

Following the meeting Broughton told the DCI she is not resigning, but rather was concerned she would lose her temper if she stayed.

Ziegler is also calling for Mayor Gofforth to resign following the town's civil case against citizen Carl Page, which was dismissed in Delta County Court. Paton and Todd called his comments "offensive," and Paton called Ziegler "Idiot."

A Crawford resident's ongoing attempts to convince town council to allow a marijuana business to operate in town continues to cause turmoil. His request, repeated at the Sept. 22 council meeting, resulted in name-calling, heated arguments, and a trustee walking out in protest of comments made by her fellow trustees.

Jay Ziegler has appeared before town council several times in recent months to urge an end to the town's moratorium on marijuana businesses. Speaking under the public non-agenda items segment of the meeting, Ziegler asked council to reconsider a 2011 draft ordinance that would allow for the licensing and regulation of a medicinal marijuana business within the town. The ordinance failed by a 4-3 vote.

Ziegler opened a licensed medical marijuana business in Crawford in January, 2010. In February of that year, council declared "such businesses to be a nuisance," and Ziegler was ordered to close his business by July 1, 2011.

"I'm asking you again, would the council please take a real serious look at licensing a marijuana store here?" said Ziegler. He told council that he did more than $100,000 in the year his business was opened. The sales tax income, said Ziegler, could help make up for lost mineral taxes, prevent future water and sewer rates increases, and would also provide income if the mill levy increase on this November's ballot fails.

Ziegler commended Trustee Tammy Broughton, a caregiver who works with terminally ill patients. At the "meet the candidates forum" in March, Broughton stated that while she's never seen or tried marijuana, she isn't opposed to a medical facility. Ziegler reminded council that Broughton received more votes than any of the candidates.

Ziegler also ran for council and was not elected.

Following completion of agenda items, trustee John Paton addressed Ziegler. "Since you are so bound and determined that the financial future of the town and the North Fork Valley is contingent on marijuana, between taxes and the mill levy and food, clothing and shelter, how are people going to have enough money to buy marijuana?"

Ziegler replied that people in town grow their own because of the high prices and the economic situation. People would come from within the 80-mile radius between Carbondale, Ridgway and De Beque, where stores already exist, rather than travel to those towns.

Trustee Hetty Todd commented that if the town has a marijuana business, it will also need a municipal court. Ziegler replied by assuring trustees that the industry is highly regulated.

Paton told Ziegler he's concerned about the dangers the drug poses to children.

"I agree with you," replied Ziegler, a former crisis intervention specialist with Phoenix Hospital in Arizona. "We need to keep all drugs out of the hands of children until they're 21." Until then, he said, they need to be educated as to what all drugs will do to them. "Tobacco kills a half a million Americans each year. Alcohol? We have drive-through liquor stores in this county. That kills, on average, 150,000 Americans each year."

"Where is your justification for this," said Paton. "I mean, it isn't there. I don't need money that bad. The town doesn't need money that bad."

Trustee Broughton said council members would be "appalled at how many people already grow their own, prompting mayor pro tem Mike Tiedeman to ask Ziegler how he can make money if everyone is growing it.

Broughton then told trustees they need to go on the Internet "and do some research about what marijuana does for people."

With several trustees arguing at once, Broughton stood up and called trustees "blind" before walking out of the meeting.

"Don't come back," said Paton.

"Oh, I will be back, John," said Broughton.

"Don't bother," said Paton.

Following the meeting Broughton told the DCI she is not resigning, but rather was concerned she would lose her temper if she stayed.

Ziegler is also calling for Mayor Gofforth to resign following the town's civil case against citizen Carl Page, which was dismissed in Delta County Court. Paton and Todd called his comments "offensive," and Paton called Ziegler "Idiot."