You still can't legally buy marijuana in Palmer Lake and smoke it for recreational use. But the possibility exists - again - that those seeking to legally buy the drug within the city boundaries can do so sometime next year.
In September, the Town of Palmer Lake put a moratorium on the issue, repealing an ordinance that was passed by the Town Council in August. The issue, as it relates to Amendment 64, will now be left up to the voters next April.
“We want what's best for the political process,” said Town Council member Dr. Mike Maddox. “We want a victory for the electoral process.”
Private citizens are not affected by the ordinance as long as they follow the rules of Amendment 64.
Last summer, Maddox was one of the leading advocates for imposing the ban. He became the target of citizens in the community who decided to put together a petition to either repeal the ban or ask for a moratorium.
“The pot activists are not my enemy,” Maddox said.
On Sept. 12, the Town enacted a moratorium on sales of recreational marijuana after a group of local citizens gathered enough signatures on a petition to allow a vote on the issue in April. Only about 20 signatures were needed (one-tenth of the 200 registered voters who voted in last November's general election).
Palmer Lake mayor Nikki McDonald said there are 1,900 registered voters in Palmer Lake.
“It will be the citizenry's decision,” McDonald said. “A mail-in ballot will not let anyone have an excuse for not voting.”
If the Palmer Lake residents vote to approve the sales of commercial recreational marijuana, only existing licensed medical marijuana businesses would be allowed to conduct retail growing and sales of recreational marijuana until September 2014. However, there is still no guarantee that different zoning and regulations would ever be adopted.
“We haven't backed down,” Maddox said. “We're adhering to the law. The opposition got enough signatures to get us to rescind (the ban).”
If town residents vote against the sales of recreational marijuana, the issue will be over, according to Town attorney Larry Gaddis and Town clerk Tara Berreth.
Last summer, numerous municipalities along the Front Range - including Colorado Springs and Monument - voted to put a ban on recreational marijuana sales.
“I spent time with Monument mayor Travis Easton and Colorado Springs mayor Steve Bach and asked them why they did what they did,” Maddox said. “I wanted to know all the issues. I wanted to weigh evidence. Do the research. I wanted to have all the evidence on both sides.”
Pueblo County officials announced on Oct. 9 they have agreed to allow recreational marijuana sales next year, but to cap the number of dispensaries at 10.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported that Pueblo County commissioners voted in favor of marijuana regulations that set the framework for licenses, enforcement and fees.
The vote on proposed zoning rules for retail pot stores was postponed until Oct. 21.
The county also accepted a cap on the number of local dispensaries that can transfer from medical to recreational next year. No more than 10 dispensaries will be able to transition into Pueblo's new market next year.
The Chieftain also reported that Pueblo currently has six dispensaries in business and four more in the various stages of applying.