Hotchkiss, Paonia may see cannabis on ballot in 2016

By Tamie Meck


Citizens in Hotchkiss and Paonia could see cannabis back on the ballot in 2016.

In Hotchkiss, Mary Hockenbery is spearheading a petition to place a question on the ballot that would allow "limited retail recreational/medical marijuana" sales and manufacturing within town limits. The petition is expected to be presented to town trustees at the first council meeting of the new year on Jan. 14. Hockenbery, a local photographer and owner of the Church of Art, posted petition language on her Facebook page over the weekend, along with a letter stating her reasons for supporting the initiative.

In Paonia, trustee Ross King requested at the Dec. 8 board meeting that the issue be placed on the agenda by February. "I'd like to see a discussion from the board, and from the public, on the issue of putting marijuana on the ballot for 2016," said King.

Paonia citizens voted down Measure 2B in November 2014 by a 417-366 vote. The measure would have legalized the operation of retail marijuana establishments, including cultivation facilities, product manufacturing and testing facilities.

Colorado voters approved the medicinal use of cannabis in 2000. Since recreational use of cannabis became legal in the state in January 2013 with the passage of Amendment 64, the fears that were expressed, including a rise in use among youth and increased crime rates, have not materialized in the communities that have allowed retail sales and other activities, said King in a recent interview. Whether it be by authority of council or through a citizens' petition, "Personally, I think it should be on the ballot again."