Will Grand Junction reconsider legalizing Marijuana sales?

Published: Nov. 9, 2017 at 6:42 PM MST
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Recreational and medical marijuana sales brought in almost 200 million dollars in tax revenue across the state, last year alone.

Cities are using the extra tax money to improve schools, roads, and pay for new projects.

Here in Mesa County, it’s still illegal to sell and grow cannabis as it's up to municipalities to then decide whether they'll sell marijuana.

The question now is when will Grand Junction jump on the bandwagon if ever?

"I don't think overall it's a great thing for our society,” said Mesa County Commissioner John Justman.

Recreational pot shops are showing up in more cities across Colorado, like Palisade, which just opened its first one a month ago.

"Oh you're from the light-em-up-state, how's that working for you, I don't think it’s working as wonderfully as everybody thinks it is?” said Justman.

However, the move is hardly felt in Grand Junction and most of Mesa County.

"It won statewide but it did not win in Mesa County,” said county administrator Frank Whidden.

When pot was first legalized in the state, it was up to the individual cities and counties to decide whether or not they wanted to open shops.

"I was on the city council when it came to us initially and at the time marijuana laws were based on medical marijuana, and it was a such a convoluted process that we couldn't just get behind it,” said former Grand Junction Mayor Gregg Palmer.

After a majority vote, it looked like cannabis was not coming to all of Western Colorado.

"So the Grand Junction town has voted it down a couple times, Fruita’s voted it down a couple times, Palisade has had historically and just recently they have approved it within Palisade,” said Whidden.

Mesa County Commissioners signed Ordinance 11, prohibiting the production and sale of marijuana in the county.

"That’s up to the voters to decide,” said Whidden.

Although Palisade and De Beque are within the county, voters there agreed to legalize it only within those city limits.

"De Beque was really hurting for money and that was one of the solutions to do it,” said Justman.

However, Grand Junction has still not jumped on board.

Each municipality can do whatever they want,” said Whidden.

Last year county commissioners tell us a pro-marijuana group advocated for legalizing recreational pot but they didn't get enough signatures to even put it on the ballot.

"I think it’s time to revisit the issue,” said Palmer

With these nearby towns getting extra revenue.

"I just recently moved here two years ago from Denver just the community feel of it all and the money as well, I mean I think it would be beneficial to have that influx of you know money that's always good to have in the community,” said resident Brittany Stanley.

Some locals think it's time to reconsider Grand Junctions stance on legalization.

"I think it's probably time to accept the fact that constitutionally it’s legal in the state of Colorado,” said Palmer.

Supporters say the extra cash would help make improvements in the community, however, County Commissioner John Justman says that might not be the case.

"Unless we had a high fee were not going to get that much tax revenue from it because most of it goes to the state and then it’s supposed to go to help the schools,” said Justman.

He says right now, the current county commissioners have no intentions of reversing their decision.

“I mean you can legally use the product in the county, you just can't purchase it in rural Mesa County,” said Justman.

However, one thing is clear.

"People are still going to buy it either way, whether it's here in Grand Junction or if it's all the way in Denver, they are still going to drive all the way to Denver to pick up a few ounces and then come back to Grand Junction,” said Stanley.

County Commissioners say for now, Ordinance 11 will remain in place until someone challenges the issue or gathers enough signatures to start a petition to consider legalizing cannabis sales.