The decision on whether or not to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in Cañon City will be made by voters in the November election.
During Wednesday’s General Government meeting, several local residents on both sides of the issue spoke out in front of a standing-room-only crowd. They addressed marijuana from several standpoints, including financial, moral, legal, health and safety.
The current extended recreational pot moratorium placed by the council in March is effective until July 1. The city council members Wednesday contemplated whether or not to deny the recreational sale; move forward with an ordinance to regulate it; or extend the moratorium and refer to voters in November. The majority voted for the latter.
About 14 people voiced opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana, and about six spoke in favor.
“I think that once a moral boundary begins to slide, then more and more moral boundaries will slide afterwards,” said Pastor Larry Kettle of Bridge to Life Assembly of God Church. “People may say to us, ‘where were you when we legalized medical marijuana?,’ but I will tell you at this point in time, I want to stand up for moral values and that’s why I am here.”
Dana Soux, owner of Fremont County Cannabis, said the issue is with facts and science — not morals and politics.
“We all are born with an endocannabinoid system,” she said. “Every mammal living on this planet has an endocannabinoid system; we naturally produce the chemicals that the cannabis plant produces, so when we have deficiencies and they sense this in our endocannabinoid system, we get cancer, we get Crohn’s (disease), we get rheumatoid arthritis.”
She said the plants can help rebuild those deficiencies.
Cañon City resident Ethan McClaugherty said he is pleased with the council’s decision to let voters decide.
“That’s all that those of us trying to create unity was saying, is this is too contentious to say yes or no, let’s go to the vote of the people and see what is best for this town,” he said. “That’s all most of us wanted, and to see the city council come to this conclusion, I can tell you most of us are really proud of them right now. They did their job well.”
Council members Scott Eckstrom, Ron Bates, Gerry Meloni and Colby Katchmar opted to send the issue to voters. Council members Dennis Wied and Kevin Ditmore moved to send an ordinance before council to allow the retail sale of recreational marijuana. Councilwoman Pat Freda was not in attendance of Wednesday’s meeting.
“Given the voice that we’ve heard in the last month, I think it would be prudent for us to continue to discuss this, and I think the point is well made that time is going to work this out,” Eckstrom said. “I would hate for us as a community to rush into something and be the guinea pig for the state and the nation.”
Meloni, who said he does not have a firm opinion one way or the other, asked Wednesday’s crowd to “use this energy to tackle the real problems” in Cañon City.
“Marijuana, to me, is the same as buying a six-pack of beer or a bottle of whiskey,” he said. “Take this energy to fight some of the meth addicts in this town.”
Following the meeting, Ditmore said that perhaps it is best, at this point, to put the issue to a vote of the people because the council has heard voices on both sides “loud and clear.”
“One of the things I was trying to get at is, right now, you can buy marijuana on the black market and you don’t know where that was grown, you don’t know what they might have put in it to process it,” he said. “If you go to a recreational marijuana shop, every seed that is planted in Colorado is tracked, they know what is growing, they know what is put in it. To me, that’s a safety issue.”
To read comments taken from the public during Wednesday’s meeting, visit the chat at http://bit.ly/1o8x0Up” title=”bit.ly“>http://bit.ly/1o8x0Up. To view video clips and reaction to the meeting, visit canoncitydailyrecord.com.