Medical marijuana advocates collecting petitions to overturn Fort Collins ban

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Mark Belkin.
On Valentine's Day, all Fort Collins dispensaries closed as the result of a retail ban passed the previous November. But MMJ patients and industry types aren't meekly accepting this verdict. Following on unsuccessful court challenge, they've banded together to collect signatures for a new proposal to make MMCs legal again -- and they've got union help in doing so, as Mark Belkin of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 makes clear.

"We're going to be working as hard as our members in Fort Collins and the owenrs whose businesses were shut down as a result of the last election," says Belkin, Local 7's organizing director. "We're putting together a community-wide and small-business coalition to collect signatures for petitions to get this back on the ballot."

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The bud bar at Organic Alternatives, whose space serves as the petition-drive HQ.
Medical marijuana workers signed up with the UFCW last October, when the campaign against the ban proposal was in full swing. In the end, the vote was close but not razor-thin, with those favoring prohibition coming out on top by a 53-47 percent margin. However, Belkin feels these numbers can be reversed in part because turnout will presumably be much higher in 2012 due to the presidential election.

"A lot of these initiatives and referendums that are used as wedge issues are put on the ballot during off-year elections, because a much narrower voter base comes out to vote," he allows. "We believe that during a presidential election, there will be a much broader base, and that will work to the advantage of the medical marijuana movement."

Belkin also thinks voter-access issues disadvantaged the anti-ban group last time around.

"Statewide, thousands and thousands of registered voters did not receive a mail-in ballot," he points out. "And that's wrong. If you're a registered voter, you should receive a ballot."

Page down to continue reading about the petition drive to overturn the Fort Collins MMJ retail ban.


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