Medical marijuana ban goes before Fort Collins voters Nov. 1

Fort Collins voters on Nov. 1 will decide whether to ban medical marijuana producers and purveyors from the city limits.

Initiative Question 300 would require all 21 medical marijuana dispensaries, infused product makers and grow operations to either close or relocate within 90 days following its passage.

The issue was placed on the ballot by petitioners organized as Concerned Fort Collins Citizens “outraged over the booming marijuana industry and how that industry is threatening the quality of life that we cherish and our city’s distinction as being one of the ‘Best Places to Live’ in the entire country.”

Led by current and former criminal justice officials, the initiative focuses on what the group contends are medical marijuana’s destructive and addictive effects on children.

“By closing the commercial pot shops, (marijuana) grow operations and (marijuana) candy-making in Fort Collins, the citizens of Fort Collins will be providing a safer community environment in which to nurture the healthy development of our children, youth and families,” the group states on its website.

Two issues committees have organized to oppose the initiative: Fort Collins-based Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods and Wheat Ridge-based Families for Safe, Secure and Regulated Access.

Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods states that its mission is to keep our neighborhoods safe by ensuring that medical marijuana businesses remain “highly regulated, highly taxed and legal in the City of Fort Collins.” It is seeking to rally supporters through a get-out-the-vote effort featuring a voter registration form stapled into the center of a free, slick magazine targeted at Colorado State University students.

The group contends the ban would “deny access to essential treatment for over 8,000 suffering from disease and sickness, harm the local economy, put hundreds of local people out of work, decrease government revenue, and push marijuana sales from taxed, regulated and secured centers 
into our neighborhoods, making us less safe.”

From June 2010 to June 2011, taxes and fees on medical pot businesses contributed more than $400,000 to the city’s general fund, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report.

Proponents of the ban dismiss such arguments contending that “protecting our kids is worth more than protecting revenue streams from pot shops. The visible presence of an abundance of dispensaries and the advertisement of marijuana as a ‘medicine’ contributes to our youth’s growing perception that marijuana is not harmful and is not addictive,” the group states.

Oct. 3 is the deadline to register to vote in the all-mail election. Ballots will be mailed to voters the week of Oct. 11 and should be delivered by Oct. 13.

Completed ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. Nov. 1. All ballots — including those completed too late to be returned by mail — may be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the citizen information center on the first floor of the Larimer County office building at 200 W. Oak St. in Fort Collins.

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