The decision on whether or not to allow recreational marijuana in Cañon City officially will be in the hands of the voters in November.
An ordinance extending the city’s moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, calling for a special municipal election and submitting a ballot measure, was approved by majority vote during Monday’s regular Cañon City Council meeting.
Councilman Dennis Wied voted against the ordinance, Councilman Ron Bates was absent from the meeting and Councilman Colby Katchmar asked to be recused. During the April 9 General Government Committee meeting, Katchmar said he has a property that is leased to a medical marijuana operation.
During the regular June 2 meeting, the council approved the ordinance on first reading after hearing from nearly 40 people who spoke in favor of, and against, the retail sale of marijuana. About 20 people attended Monday’s meeting. No one offered to speak to council about information that has not yet been presented, and there was no council discussion.
The council did agree to excuse Katchmar from the vote. City Attorney John Havens said the request was appropriate.
“I think it would be appropriate for you to ask, and then the council may decide whether to excuse you or not because you missed the discussions (at the June 2 meeting), and because there is at least the suggestion of a conflict and because you previously voiced that there might be a conflict,” he said. “The council might be favorably inclined to allow you to sit this one out.”
Wied, in previous committee and council meetings, has spoken in favor of the council moving forward with approving the sale of retail marijuana in the city.
Following Monday’s meeting, local residents Richard Hollabaugh and Timme Pearson commented on the council’s final decision. Both have spoken during public meeting in favor of banning retail marijuana.
“I am very disappointed that the council still didn’t have the courage to actually vote on it themselves,” Hollabaugh said. “However, the next best thing it is going to go officially to the voters, for approval or turning it down, which we hope sincerely they do.”
He said the Royal Gorge Tea Party will be spearheading a campaign to encourage citizens to vote against retail marijuana this fall.
Pearson owns and operates a local, private mental health office, and she has given council members in previous meetings information on marijuana studies.
“I just hope that the voters will vote from an informed point of view, that they will do the research and look at the pros and cons. But most importantly, look at what having the potential for more access to marijuana for our youth will mean to them, in light that we have had youth come here and talk about how they don’t want it,” she said. “I would hope that the community would hear the voice of the youth in this community and support them.”
A second reading of an ordinance referring the question of whether to impose an excise tax on retail marijuana or marijuana products was unanimously approved. The council, on June 2, decided revenue received by the city from collections of an excise tax on the retail sale of recreational marijuana would be designated to maintain, repair and reconstruct city streets.