Medical marijuana ban defeated in Palisade in part due to low-key approach, center owner says
This week, Fort Collins voters approved a medical marijuana retail ban. However, electorates in several other communities rejected similar measures, including Steamboat Springs and, most surprisingly, Palisade, a Western Slope burg surrounded by municipalities that have prohibitions in place. Why did Palisade prevail? Desa Loughman, co-owner of the only MMC in town -- and the entire county -- has some ideas.
"We've been in business for two years," Loughman says of the dispensary, Colorado Alternative Health Care, "and we definitely try to set ourselves apart. When we advertise, we avoid all the skinny little girls with pot leaves on their chest -- the things that don't say 'medicinal' -- and try to stay away from all the negative stereotypes that fall onto our industry."
Palisade, known for its incredible peaches and burgeoning wineries, is located in Mesa County, which is anchored by Grand Junction, the largest city in the western half of the state. Even before Grand Junction began marketing itself as a retirement community -- a campaign that brought in an older demographic -- it was politically conservative, as is the county as a whole.
Cutting the ribbon at the Palisade center.
No surprise, then, that the arrival of medical marijuana businesses spurred a backlash. Mesa County voted for a ban in November 2010, with Grand Junction following suit this past April. These successes spurred Palisade locals to push for the same thing, despite the center's low-key approach.
The center's logo.
"When Grand Junction got closed down, it definitely put us on the map," Loughman concedes. "And that shocked a lot of residents in town. There are only about 2,000 people in Palisade, but many of them didn't even know we were here."