The two marijuana questions on the City of Delta's municipal ballot are creating confusion, as predicted by several council members.
Although it is not legal to sell retail marijuana or to conduct a commercial grow operation in city limits, the city is asking voters to approve taxation on both those possibilities.
At a candidate forum earlier this month, Ron Austin, mayor pro-tem, explained, "This was done as a way to get ahead of the game in the event that a marijuana petition was signed and approved and came to the voters."
Depending on the timing of the petition, it could be a year before the city could enact a tax on marijuana sales, he explained. State statutes allow tax measures to be presented only during a regular municipal election or a coordinated November election.
City council and staff have also discussed zoning for marijuana at great length, but decided to shelve a proposed ordinance for now. If retail marijuana and commercial grow operations are ever allowed, either by council or by voters, "we could bring it off the shelf," Austin explained.
"People perceive when you take these measures that you are endorsing marijuana. That is not the case and we tried to make that clear from the get-go."
In response to numerous inquiries about the two ballot questions, the city has added wording to the city website in an attempt to clarify the situation. On Monday, the following verbiage was added to the two taxation questions under the "Ballot Issues" tab:
• These questions are NOT approving the retail sales of marijuana within the City of Delta.
• These questions would approve the taxation of marijuana only if marijuana sales are approved in the future. There is no pending ordinance or proposal before the Delta City Council at this time to approve any marijuana sales in the City of Delta.
• The City of Delta is limited on which election a TABOR question (such as a tax) can be presented to the voters. These questions are being presented now because the regular city election in April is one of those authorized times.
Further questions can be directed to Delta City Hall, 874-7566. To verify voter registration, visit www.govote colorado.com.
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.