Dear Editor:

If you are a registered voter in Hotchkiss, by the time you read this you have probably already sent back your mail-in ballot, but just in case it is still lying around the house here is my personal argument on why to vote yes on questions 2A, 2B and 2C, one last time.

Commercial marijuana is legal in Colorado. If it is not allowed in your town (or county), the town (or county) misses out on a share of the state taxes on the products and any separate taxes the town chooses to impose. With the current economic circumstances, the Town of Hotchkiss needs that revenue to at least partially replace mineral severance taxes and related revenue losses connected to the mines and miners. In lieu of that either taxes go up or services go down.

Then there are the jobs we are losing. Commercial marijuana will not replace $60,000 a year mining jobs, but they will replace some of the lost service industry jobs with jobs that usually pay better, up to about $20 an hour for a skilled trimmer in a grow facility. We can send those jobs to Carbondale, Ridgway and Crested Butte or we can have them here.

As a local history buff, I see retail marijuana as the wet town/dry town argument of our day. Prohibition of alcohol was tried and failed due to human nature. Before and after prohibition small towns, including Hotchkiss and Paonia, went back and forth on whether to allow bars and liquor stores. It came down to the fact that a lot of people liked the convenience of bars and liquors stores in their communities. And most people who drink, drink responsibly.

Prohibition of cannabis has failed as well and the trend is to legalize it nationally within a decade or two. In the meantime, in Colorado, we are now in the phase where we either grow our pot at home (in Hotchkiss you can legally grow six plants per person or a maximum of 18 plants per residence), share, or buy illegally from the neighbors, or drive 80 miles to shops in other counties. We already have all of the impacts, but have none of the financial benefits. We can be "dry" for a few more years or we can be financially responsible and allow new businesses that will also benefit many of our existing businesses. That is the choice regardless of our personal beliefs.

Thomas Wills



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