Medical marijuana: Fort Collins voters to decide about retail ban (again)
Now, a group of pro-dispensary supporters is hoping voters will bring the industry back to the northern Colorado town.
Former dispensary owners and union workers from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 collected about 9,000 signatures in favor of the initiative -- more than double the 4,214 needed to put the measure before voters, and about 1,500 beyond what the pro-ban contingency turned in last July. Yesterday, the Fort Collins city clerk confirmed that the office had received the signatures.
Former Organic Alternatives dispensary owner Steve Ackerman was shut out by the ban and has helped lead the charge in overturning it since last year. He says that because this year is a presidential election, more voters in general will be turning out, including those he feels look favorably toward medical marijuana centers in the city.
The repeal would remove the ban and allow dispensaries within the Fort Collins city limits, as long as they are more than 1,000 feet from schools and playgrounds and at least 500 feet from daycare centers and churches. The proposal would also limit the number of dispensaries to one for every 500 medical marijuana patients.
The former Organic Alternatives in Fort Collins.
Ackerman is uncertain if the limitation would be based on the number of patients in the city or county. Based on Department of Public Health and Environment patient statistics from April, Larimer County numbers would limit the number of shops to about ten -- down from the the 21 that were operating before the ban went into effect. Ackerman says the limitations would help the image of the industry in Fort Collins.
"The way that medical marijuana dispensaries came into being was somewhat of a free-for-all," Ackerman concedes. "People looked at the early days of dispensaries and said, 'We don't want this.' I can understand that and agree with them. But after the Department of Revenue and the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division got involved and set up regulations...it was a different story than what was depicted by the [pro-ban contingency].
"Another thing: People don't want to see what you guys have in Denver," he adds. "South Broadway with dispensary after dispensary, with the marijuana leaves on the signs and everything else.... In Fort Collins, we'll have a different way of doing it here. It will be less in-your-face business."
The talking points of Concerned Fort Collins Citizens, the group that pushed the ban, included the vague assertion that medical marijuana centers had increased "crime and delinquency" in the city since their proliferation in late 2008.
Speaking on behalf of CFCC, former Fort Collins mayor Ray Martinez dismissed the repeal efforts as well as medical marijuana in general -- which he insists is being abused by the majority of patients.
Page down to read more of Ray Martinez's arguments against overturning the MMJ ban in Fort Collins.