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Medical marijuana gets a thumb's up in Delta

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Two of the four marijuana questions on the November ballot were narrowly approved by voters in the City of Delta. Measure 2F allows the establishment of medical marijuana centers. Measure 2H permits the establishment of medical marijuana cultivation, testing, research and manufacturing facilities.

The two other questions dealing with recreational marijuana failed, also by narrow margins.

But don't look for medical marijuana to be available in Delta any time soon. As the local licensing authority, the Delta City Council will first consider regulations, zoning and possibly a limit on the number of operations to be permitted. While a previous council did some groundwork on the subject, the two newest council members will have an opportunity to add their input.

In the meantime, city attorney David McConaughy is recommending a moratorium on the acceptance and processing of applications for medical marijuana establishment licenses. Adoption of an emergency ordinance was on the agenda for a special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13.

To give the city time to develop and enact the necessary licensing and zoning provisions, the ordinance proposes a three-month moratorium. Assuming the ordinance is approved, the moratorium goes into effect immediately.

Businesses that are eventually licensed by the city and by the state can sell only to registered patients or primary caregivers. According to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, a product infused with medical marijuana is intended for use or consumption other than by smoking, and can include edible products, ointments and tinctures.

Voters previously approved a 5 percent excise tax on unprocessed marijuana and a 2 percent special sales tax on retail sales, on top of the city's 3 percent sales tax.

The city already has at least one interested applicant, John Thomas, who attended the Oct. 16 meeting of the Delta City Council. Thomas previously owned a medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Delta, which was closed by a vote of the citizens. He now operates a dispensary in Montrose County called the Green Meadows. He said if the marijuana ballot issue passed, he would like the honor of doing business in the City of Delta again.

In addition to the four marijuana questions, voters approved the sale or swap of city-owned properties including the ML&P plant, Riverbend Park and Cottonwood Park. A professional appraisal is being conducted on Riverbend and Cottonwood, as well as the St. James properties that are being considered for the land swap.

A half-cent sales tax increase for parks, recreation and golf was defeated 70 percent to 30 percent. That measure would have generated $900,000-plus for that fund. After adjourning Tuesday night's special meeting, council members moved into a work session to continue discussion of the 2019 budget, a discussion that had been delayed until after the election.

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