About 50 citizens took part in a march down Main Street just before Monday’s regular city council meeting to voice support for retail marijuana in Cañon City.
Fremont Cannabis owner and event organizer Dana Soux said the group, “Potheads Against Potholes” also hosted a cookout complete with volleyball and other entertainment at the former Cañon Floral building at 111 Main St. before the march. She said about 100 people attended the cookout, ranging in age from early 20s to 80s.
“The response was way more positive than negative,” Soux said. “We were kind of surprised, we weren’t sure how people were going to feel about it. We got a lot of honks and people screaming and waving.”
The group ended the march at city hall, where participants sat in on the council meeting. Soux said they wanted to show the council that there are supporters for retail marijuana in the community.
“The last meeting was in the middle of the day, and it’s kind of hard for people who work to get here,” she said.
The group also is circulating a letter with about 400 signatures of people who do not want the issue to be placed on the November ballot.
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Council members Kevin Ditmore, Colby Katchmar and Dennis Wied walked with the group for part of the march.
“I am glad to see that there are some pro-retail marijuana people starting to show up for some of our events,” Wied said. “I’ve made no secret about it that I certainly am in favor of it. I think it’s ridiculous for us to turn over control of retail marijuana to our neighboring cities, Pueblo West and Salida.
“I think we should be the ones who control what goes on here.”
The General Government committee on May 7, by majority agreement, elected to extend the moratorium beyond the November election to allow a vote on the matter and set the question to be asked on the Nov. 4 ballot. The current moratorium expires July 1.
The ordinances are expected to be presented to council for first reading during the June 2 meeting and if approved, second reading and adoption would be during the June 16 meeting.
City Administrator Doug Dotson said the the first ordinance would extend the moratorium and would set the question on the ballot for a public vote. The second ordinance would ask, if the first one is approved, if there should be additional sales or excise tax on the sale of retail marijuana.
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Tony Greer said there is a rumor circulating that there is a “conspiracy” for Katchmar to recuse himself from voting on the retail marijuana issue, specifically so that Greer can vote in favor. Greer said that is not true.
“I have not made up my mind on that,” Greer said. “That is why we have public hearings.”
When clarifying the May 7 meeting minutes, Katchmar said during the that meeting, he thought it “looked like a good idea” to send the issue to the voters, but at this point, he does “need to abstain.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to be kicked back,” he said. “I’m really not sure where we’re going with this at this point.”
During the public comment period, local resident Sarah Kitchen said the “clergymen” who spoke out at the May 7 meeting stating their church and giving their position as clergymen, “can not have a say in government’s working” if they are a 501(c)(3) non-profit group.
“That is a conflict of interest,” she said. “Either they pay their taxes or they don’t speak out as a representative of the clergy. That is wrong.”