When registered voters in the Town of Paonia mail in their ballots for the Nov. 4 election, they will have a ballot question to answer.
The town council approved the ballot question which asks if retail marijuana stores, cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities and testing facilities should be allowed within town limits.
People must vote yes or no to all four. It’s all or nothing. No one will be able to vote for retail stores and testing facilities, but not for the wholesale cultivation and manufacturing facilities.
One of the issues other municipalities have discovered with cultivation or grow facilities is the amount of water that is necessary to grow healthy marijuana plants.
For example, in Ridgway the council was somewhat shocked to learn that a large grow facility would require 55,000 gallons of municipal water every other day. That’s 825,000 gallons every month and more than 10 million gallons of municipal water every year.
A much smaller grow operation in Ridgway says they only need 200 gallons of municipal water a day, which is similiar to the amount used in a family home.
The actual water needs for marijuana grow facilities is up for debate. Published reports give a range of three to 10 gallons per day, per plant, depending on where in the growth cycle the plant is. Pot growers are contesting these numbers, and there seems little actual research data available for an old industry which is only recently made legal in some states.
The Marijuana Business Daily reported that the U.S. Interior Department in May declared federal irrigation water could not be used to grow cannabis.
“But just how much it will affect the industry is unclear. A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the agency will not investigate growers or districts that provide water to them; instead, it will refer any violations it comes across to the Department of Justice,” the MBD article stated. “In Colorado, all licensed cannabis growers operate indoors — pulling their water from city and local water supplies — so the impact will be minimal.”