Some vocal public opposition and objections to procedural issues weren't sufficient to dissuade the Board of County Commissioners from voting unanimously Monday, Feb. 4, to ban marijuana facilities that produce, process or sell pot for the wholesale or retail trades.
The ordinance is in effect upon Monday's adoption and applies in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Local residents mounted opposition to the ordinance. Several were present at the BoCC's meeting on Jan. 22 during both constituent time and during the county attorney's agenda with the board.
Scott C. Wilson of Hotchkiss objected to the county's public notice for the ordinance and about text in the document itself. Wilson charged that the county's legal notice and publication constituted "a breach of the Open Meetings Act," and that the document's wording would "outlaw agriculture in Delta County." He termed the ordinance and its adoption procedure "an outrage" and "a travesty of justice."
Wilson also asked for a "bi-partisan committee of stakeholders" to consider local regulations for marijuana facilities under the provisions of Amendment 64. He also asked for a six-month moratorium. Other communities have adopted temporary moratoriums on marijuana facilities until the General Assembly finalizes its regulatory guidance on Amendment 64.
Public notice for the county's ordinance appeared in the DCI with text provided by the county. The text and publication were researched by county attorney Christine Knight who found them to be proper and legal in all respects.
Knight responded to another criticism from Wilson. She said that language in the ordinance Wilson disputed had come directly out of the voter approved Amendment 64. The amendment legalizes recreational use of marijuana, and it also allows local governments to outlaw marijuana facilities that trade in the drug. Federal laws against marijuana remain in effect.
Also during the BoCC's Jan. 22 meeting, ordinance opponent Jere Lowe of Hotchkiss told the commissioners, "You do have the power to (pass) this." But, adding that he had spoken with attorneys, he said there had been "serious sunshine violations on this."
Wilson and Lowe were objecting to the last paragraph of the ordinance text claiming it violated a rule governing legal publication. It doesn't, Knight said on Monday; the paragraph is an integral part of the ordinance as adopted by the BoCC and the ordinance could not be legally published without including it.
Lowe also asked that the ordinance be tabled and that a local working group be formed to create a regulatory framework for administering Amendment 64 in Delta County. "This (marijuana) is here to stay," Lowe told the BoCC.
In adopting their ordinance, commissioners cited Amendment 64's defeat last November by voters countywide. Lowe challenged District 3 Commissioner Mark Roeber saying North Fork Valley voters actually favored the measure, and that county voters' rejection of Amendment 64 by 54 percent against "is not a mandate."
The Amendment 64 tally of 4,897 votes cast in the six North Fork Valley precincts 15 through 20 resulted in a difference of 51 votes in favor, according to the county election returns.
Others objecting to the ordinance at the Jan. 22 meeting were the following:
• Bart Eller of Paonia said wording in the ordinance "leaves me wondering if I'm breaking the law" selling ag products. "It feels hostile to me as a small business owner," he said.
The county ordinance applies only to "marijuana facilities," not agriculture, Knight explained.
• Steve Danuff asked for a six-month moratorium on the county's ordinance.
• Lucien Pevec of Paonia said the ordinance was to broadly worded and had come too soon, even before the General Assembly had time to create enforcing regulations. He asked that consideration be tabled.
• Kay Hannah of Paonia asked for "an attitude of cooperation and open mindedness," and she also asked the commissioners table consideration of the ordinance.
Before voting on the ordinance Monday, commissioners verified with the county attorney that each of the opponent's complaints about the ordinance wording and the legal publication had been correctly addressed.
Commissioner Mark Roeber confirmed that the ordinance doesn't ban potting soil or other innocuous ag supplies as opponents had claimed.
Commissioner Bruce Hovde confirmed that the ordinance defines "marijuana accessories" but does not prohibit them.
Commission Chair Doug Atchley asked Knight to explain Amendment 64's relation to medical marijuana. Knight replied that with Amendment 64's adoption, there will probably be "fewer prescriptions" written for the drug.
She added that the principAL difference between the two laws is that a medical marijuana prescription allows persons to possess more than one ounce, and allows persons under age 21 to possess the drug.
The BoCC adopted the ordinance without revisions from the text it had heard at first reading on Jan. 4.blog comments powered by Disqus