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Medical marijuana dispensary ban vote could cost city jobs, $1000s in taxes, says center owner

marijuana budtender.jpg
Organic Alternatives
Last month, Concerned Fort Collins Citizens petitioned the city council to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the community, which up until now has been among the state's most progressive regarding MMJ. Now, the issue is headed for a vote on November 1 -- and center owner Steve Ackerman concedes that pot-shop supporters face a tough task to prevent the loss of 21 dispensaries and hundreds of thousands in tax revenues.

"It is probably a strategy on the part of our opposition to throw this onto a school board election," notes Ackerman, who's the owner of Organic Alternatives and the president of the Fort Collins Medical Cannabis Association. "And also on the ballot is a sheriff-backed effort to raise a tax to increase the size of our jail in Fort Collins. Coincidence?"

Doubtful. Medical marijuana advocates believe many of the dispensary bans that passed in November 2010 did so in part because votes took place during a non-presidential election -- the sort that attracts relatively few younger citizens likely to be sympathetic to MMJ, and more older folks presumably hostile to it. This effect could be further amplified by a vote that doesn't coincide with races for governor or members of Congress.

As such, Ackerman concedes that "it's going to be a challenge -- but it's a challenge we're ready to meet. We have a strategy for a low-turnout election."

concerned fort collins citizens banner.jpg
A Banner from the bare-bones Concerned Fort Collins Citizens website.
Concerned Fort Collins Citizens' website contains almost no information -- but in public statements and before city council, members argued that the blossoming of the medical marijuana industry in their hometown has led to more pot smoking by people who have no medical reason to use it, including teenagers -- and they suggest that crime has risen, too.

A robbery yesterday at Herbal Wellness Medical Marijuana Dispensary in which employees were bound and forced to lie on the floor while marijuana and cash receipts were swiped will presumably be used to bolster this assertion, even though such thefts are rare and two suspects in the latest incident -- Ernie Savannah, 39, and Jeremiah Wright, forty -- were promptly arrested.

As for Ackerman, he points to the tax revenues generated by the community's 21 dispensaries -- over $440,000 from June 2010 to June 2011, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report. This total is expected to rise during the next fiscal year, and as Ackerman points out, "more than half of that goes to the City of Fort Collins' general fund" -- something especially important during an economic downturn. And that's not to mention all the jobs that would be lost and the vacant properties that would result from a ban being enacted.

marijuana close up.jpg
A close-up of OA product.
Dispensary locations are key to keeping crime down, Ackerman believes. "Our opponents cite home invasions as being part of this problem, but that's the antithesis of what's going on -- because we're located in commercial zones, where we're easily monitored by law enforcement. We're able to offer the safety and security that people need to access their medicine."

What about the claim that the mere existence of dispensaries inspires underage weed toking? "I guess you could make the same argument about liquor stores," Ackerman replies. "And we are the brewing capitol of Colorado.

"Our main point is that medical marijuana centers are licensed by the state, they're licensed by the city, they're located in commercial zones where they're easily monitored by law enforcement. We're operating under the Department of Revenue's highly regulated model, which includes 24-hour camera surveillance at all access points to medical marijuana, where law enforcement can, through Internet protocol, look in at every facet of our business at any time of the day to make sure we're following the rules. There's no way to divert marijuana grown in these regulated places to a black market, so the idea that children in our community are getting marijuana that originated from medical marijuana centers is preposterous. There is no profit-motive for somebody to come to a medical marijuana center and pay retail prices and sales tax and then try to make a profit by selling it to somebody else."

organic alternatives bud bar.jpg
Organic Alternatives' bud bar.
Ackerman isn't critical of elected officials in Fort Collins. "Our city council and the city staff spent two years, literally, working to craft an ordinance that dealt with the advent of this business, and they did a very good job with it. And we operated under the assumption that we had the blessing of the city fathers."

Not so Concerned Fort Collins Citizens, "who are obviously dissatisfied with what the city council did," he acknowledges. "But they were not involved in the process -- and not because they weren't allowed to be part of the process. They chose not to be involved. And now, they want to ban this industry."

The logic of their quest baffles him. "It is really hard for me to understand why someone would want to do away with a highly regulated model for distribution of medicine in favor of an unregulated free-for-all, which is what has been shown to occur in other communities that have banned the regulated model."

Nonetheless, Ackerman and his peers aren't simply going to let the citizens' group succeed at undermining what he feels is the will of most Fort Collins residents. "I feel very positive" about the election, he says. "I feel positive that we can win, given the chance to educate voters."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Is cancer patient Bob Crouse being prosecuted over paperwork snafu?"

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Girltalknshiz
Girltalknshiz

Sorry to say... but as a former "small caregiver"...who refused to play the MMED games... these dispensaries are getting EXACTLY what they deserve for supporting1284 and 1043.  These laws were UNCONSTITUTIONAL to BEGIN with... and the dispensary owners (in general terms) were not trying to protect our constitution OR patient rights when they agreed to follow UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAWS.  We ALL KNOW they were hoping to put the small caregivers out of business, so lets not play mind games.  Now it is coming around that their own ILLEGAL regulations are biting them in the butt.... BOO FREAKIN HOO.  Looks like the best (small) growers in the state are going to be the only ones still doing business.  How ironic.  :)

Irony
Irony

Says the person who is latest to the circle... :)

Irony tastes funny, doesn't it?

krazy katy
krazy katy

Not only will the City of Fort Collins lose that income, which like all cities needs the revenue, but because you've removed legal ways for patients to get their meds you will need an increased legal force to "control" the problem. So they lose income and incur legal cost, jailing, judges, staff, that they don't have. Sure sounds like a lose/lose situation for everyone.

YMMV
YMMV

Tough luck for the dispensaries.  But the industry has only itself to blame.  They chose to back 1284 and 1043.  These pieces of legislation were written by the dispensaries and their lobbyists.  It was going to be great for the dispensaries since patients would only be able to buy from them once the caregivers were eliminated.  Too bad it hasn't worked out quite like that. 

And now the dispensaries would like everyone to support them.  Karma is a bitch, isn't it?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The vote would be illegal.  Get an injunction against the City.

Mayorherb Veenstra
Mayorherb Veenstra

Not to mention ALL the money the patients saves the sate(s) by growing there own meds, AND not having our insurance/medicade paying for pills....Most That use medical cannabis..Pay to grow there own meds...So EVERY Medical Cannabis Patient who is no longer taking all the pills..Is saving the state(s0 alot more money on top of the 400,000.00

Matt Rize
Matt Rize

"A robbery yesterday at Herbal Wellness Medical Marijuana Dispensary in which employees were bound and forced to lie on the floor while marijuana and cash receipts were swiped. " YIKES Colorado! Glad I wasn't working there. 

Mark Montgomery
Mark Montgomery

Well-said. The dispensaries actually lobbied *for* the regulations that are putting them out of business! Other than the MMIG who supports 1284, 1043, and DUI/THC (all anti-patient bills), very few dispensary owners have gotten involved in the political process. Their head-in-the-sand mentality is going to cost them dearly. There are politics involved in any industry, cannabis more so than most! But the mmj "industry" folk are too busy to get involved in saving their businesses. All the "industry" in Colorado has been able to accomplish is to guarantee an oligopoly by the few businesses that are able to survive the crushing regulations. Good work! Ask Donald Trump, over-regulation is BAD for BUSINESS. Why is that so difficult to understand? Why do dispensary owners continue to bend over and take it without a fight? Any other industry would be shooting back with big lawsuits.Yet the mmj "industry" stands meekly by as the patients (their customers) are screwed by these regs, and they expect the patients to VOTE FOR THEM?

Mark Montgomery
Mark Montgomery

Don't know why any patients should stand up and fight for dispensaries, as the dispensaries have failed miserably to stand up for them. The MMCs-applicants all have video cameras on live feed to the state police (pot cops) at the DOR. All patients are videotaped making every transaction. No promise of privacy here!

Ackerman is being intentionally misleading when he says he is "licensed by the state." NO MMCs have yet been granted a state license. They also have no constitutional protection, as they are not allowed to be caregivers. Where does this leave patients? Purchasing medicine from an UNLICENSED MMC, putting them at risk of state or federal prosecution AND having all of the pictures of them doing business at a dispensary accessible to law enforcement on demand.

These dispensaries are lucky the patients aren't boycotting them en masse.

Stand up and fight for the patients, greedy dispensary owners! Your greed will be your downfall, and the patients will pay a much higher price than you will.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Make an open records request from the MMED! Fight back by asking question and requesting documents that belong to us.

Below is the template, just fill in the blanks it is made public record so if you want to use a pen name feel free. You do need to provide some way for them to contact you so I set up an email, mmedcora@hotmail.com, they can contact or you can use your own if you feel like it.  I will post anything I get from the MMED to the email, here on Facebook and on Reddit. If we all ask questions as much as we comment here we can know exactly what the MMED and Law Enforcement is doing regarding cannabis in Colorado.

Email to this address: jpost@dor.state.co.us Subject: Open Records Request

Julie Postlethwait, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division Public Information Officer 455 Sherman St. Suite 390Denver, Co 80203

Ms. Postlethwait,

Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act § 24-72-201 et seq., will you please make available for inspection and copying the following public records: Between January 1, 2010 and present, any emails, correspondences or records between the Medical Marijuana Enforcement division or any of its representatives and (any law enforcement or government official)____________. If these records are not in your custody or control, will you please notify me forthwith and state in detail to the best of your knowledge the reason for the absence of the records, their location, and what person or persons has custody or control of the records, as required by § 24-72-203(2), C.R.S. Will you please set a date and hour within three working days at which time the records will be available for inspection, pursuant to § 24-72-203(3). If you deny access to any of the above public records, will you please provide forthwith a written statement of the grounds for the denial, citing the law or regulation under which access is denied, as required by § 24-72-204 (4).

Sincerely,

NAMEADDRESS(You don’t need to provide this) Email(you can use your email or mmedcora@hotmail.com, they do need a way to contact you)

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Wow maybe trying to compromise with the system that has no fucking need in working with us we actually fight it. 

Here is my idea.  As I tried to get public records from the MMED and almost everyone bitched about how I didn't do it right, how about I give you all a template and you make a request to the MMED, or any government body hell ask the for communications between Concerned Fort Collins Citizens' and the MMED. All we are doing is asking for records that rightfully belong to us. As no one knows what the MMED is saying to police around the state and Vis Versa it might behoove us all to see what the government is doing behind closed doors and in emails regarding our constitutional right.

Here is the template and the  MMED Communications Officer's email fill in the blank with whatever information you want from the MMED.  I set up an email they can respond to if you don't want to use yours, mmedcora@hotmail:twitter L.com, I will post anything I get here on Facebook and Reddit. Let's see what the MMED is doing after all they do work for us.

Email to this address: jpost@dor.state.co.us Subject: Open Records Request

Julie Postlethwait, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division Public Information Officer 455 Sherman St. Suite 390 Denver, Co 80203

Ms. Postlethwait,

Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act § 24-72-201 et seq., will you please make available for inspection and copying the following public records: Between January 1, 2010 and present, any emails, correspondences or records between the Medical Marijuana Enforcement division or any of its representatives and (any law enforcement or government official)____________. If these records are not in your custody or control, will you please notify me forthwith and state in detail to the best of your knowledge the reason for the absence of the records, their location, and what person or persons has custody or control of the records, as required by § 24-72-203(2), C.R.S. Will you please set a date and hour within three working days at which time the records will be available for inspection, pursuant to § 24-72-203(3). If you deny access to any of the above public records, will you please provide forthwith a written statement of the grounds for the denial, citing the law or regulation under which access is denied, as required by § 24-72-204 (4).

Sincerely,

NAME(Real or Pen Name) ADDRESS(You don’t need to provide this) Email(you can use your email or mmedcora@hotmail.com, they do need a way to contact you)

Let's see what our government is up to.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

The robbery in Ft. Collins is not surprising.  In CO Springs and Denver dispensary robberies, the suspects were all shot and some killed by owners or workers.  This makes smaller communities more likely targets for the 'jackers' because the dispensaries there are more unsuspecting and more likely to be caught off guard unarmed.  If I owned a dispensary it would be dude with AK patrolling 24 / 7!

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

CFCC is the one being pushed by Martinez's church, right? There are LOTS of Christian MMJ patients. LOTS. 

be sure not to drop a dime in their collection plate! Which church was that again? Maybe they need some more publicity about this?!

Instntkrma
Instntkrma

how many dispensaries have stood up for patient/caregiver rights? except when a dispensary is being shut down? there are a few, but 98% cruise along enjoying everyone else get taken out by regs.

DontControlOthersPls
DontControlOthersPls

can you explain further robert? this may be a good tactic, just as how the ppl had to fight off the cirty of Fort Collins implementing an illegal city tax.

proudpatient
proudpatient

Wow... You know you're under surveillance every time you walk into a Walgreens, right?? And every time you walk in a liquor store, or a gas station for that matter... pretty much anywhere you go these days. If you don't want your privacy invaded you're better off never leaving your house. If you're ashamed of being seen buying your meds then by all means grow at home! I'm proud to be a patient, I'm not breaking any laws and I really don't care who sees me.

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

you are right and wrong. There are some greedy ones. Some of them were involved in the process w/Matt Matt Brown's COMMR and the heavy pushing from Budding Health's Josh Stanley and many of them thought they were doing the right thing.

I am convinced however most are not any more 'greedy' than anyone else and are just trying to survive these times like everyone. The state fees and regs are keeping the prices much higher than they would naturally be at this point if we'd just let dispensaries roll on with standard retail regs.

there's a ton of cheap, great, blackmarket pot out there, so you have your choices!

Mcawesomedude
Mcawesomedude

Get your facts straight Mark. Greedy dispensaries owners? When's the last time cannabis has been this cheap. You are the biggest problem because you have all the answers and all your doing with that knowledge is complaining and separating our people. The corrupt government couldn't be more proud of you! So eat your own words and you stand up and fight, know it all! Michael don't support the ignorant.

scandal
scandal

Would you please show proof that "in co springs and denver dispensary robberies the suspects were all shot and some killed by owners or workers".I call B.S on you.Put up some links you are always spouting wrong info on here and its starting to be ridiculous

Instntkrma
Instntkrma

in Walgreens we aren't committing a federal crime by being customers. 

Nobody is at risk of losing their jobs for shopping at Walgreens.

perhaps you feel the way you do because you don't understand the risks and/or you have nothing to lose.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

Some are greedy,sure - like some of any group of business owners. The problem I see is that the dispensary owners, because of the bullshit regs, were at least aware of the horrendous intrusions into patient privacy, but the vast majority of patients weren't "in the loop".  I think an informed patient base is best.  1% of 150,000 patients is more people than showed up at any hearing or event.  Generally, it is the same couple of dozen people - mostly owners.The problem I had(ve) with a few dispensary owners was(is) that they thought (think) that patients would be scared away if they knew the truth.  One threw away a whole pile of magazines - afraid their patients might find out about the invasion of privacy and stop patronizing their shop.  VERY short term thinking.  In my opinion, things will only change when the patients decide to get into the fight.Check out the cover of our March issue.  It shows the DOR and DEA peeking in on a doctor examining a patient.  You should hear the voicemail "H" left me after she threw out all the magazines.  Censorship.  This MMC owner thinks she knows what's best for everyone and makes the decision what information her patients should and shouldn't get.Now THAT, I think is a bigger problem than greed. But I agree that MMCs haven't stood up to any of this with any backbone at all and, of course, their decisions affect patients.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Hey Macawesomedude and Mark why don't you both make an open records request to the MMED so we can fight the corrupt government.  Above is my post showing you how to make the request so we can stand up and fight.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Hey Mcawesomedude your right people should do more then just complain and separate people, I posted above and her how you and Mark can both do something more then complain, it's easy.

Make an open records request from the MMED! Fight back by asking question and requesting documents that belong to us.

Below is the template, just fill in the blanks it is made public record so if you want to use a pen name feel free. You do need to provide some way for them to contact you so I set up an email, mmedcora@hotmail.com, they can contact or you can use your own if you feel like it.  I will post anything I get from the MMED to the email, here on Facebook and on Reddit. If we all ask questions as much as we comment here we can know exactly what the MMED and Law Enforcement is doing regarding cannabis in Colorado.

Email to this address: jpost@dor.state.co.us Subject: Open Records Request

Julie Postlethwait, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division Public Information Officer 455 Sherman St. Suite 390Denver, Co 80203

Ms. Postlethwait,

Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act § 24-72-201 et seq., will you please make available for inspection and copying the following public records: Between January 1, 2010 and present, any emails, correspondences or records between the Medical Marijuana Enforcement division or any of its representatives and (any law enforcement or government official)____________. If these records are not in your custody or control, will you please notify me forthwith and state in detail to the best of your knowledge the reason for the absence of the records, their location, and what person or persons has custody or control of the records, as required by § 24-72-203(2), C.R.S. Will you please set a date and hour within three working days at which time the records will be available for inspection, pursuant to § 24-72-203(3). If you deny access to any of the above public records, will you please provide forthwith a written statement of the grounds for the denial, citing the law or regulation under which access is denied, as required by § 24-72-204 (4).

Sincerely,

NAMEADDRESS(You don’t need to provide this) Email(you can use your email or mmedcora@hotmail.com, they do need a way to contact you)

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