ALAMOSA — With a deadline of July 7, a petition drive is underway to place recreational and medical marijuana questions on the City of Alamosa ballot this fall.
Petitioners must collect 212 valid signatures by July 7 for each of the ballot questions in order to successfully place them on the November ballot. An effort to gather petitions last year was not successful in time for last year’s fall election.
Shanna Hobbs, one of those circulating the petitions, said on Wednesday evening that the petition drive is going well, and she and others will be attending some of the summer events such as SummerFest this weekend and Rollin’ Deep Car Show on Father’s Day to collect signatures. Petitioners are also going door to door, she said.
Alamosa city councilors met in a work session Wednesday evening to discuss their options regarding ballot language, regardless of whether or not the citizen petition drive is successful. For example, the council could place its own competing or associated questions on the ballot, which could seek voter approval for taxation of marijuana businesses if the election passes.
The petition questions as proposed currently do not address taxation, and Hobbs said they were not allowed to.
The petition questions for which signatures are being collected are:
If sufficient signatures are obtained to place these questions on the ballot, the proposals would be two separate questions posed to voters, one seeking to allow the sale of medical marijuana within the city limits and the other permitting recreational marijuana sales. Voters could then approve one, both or neither.
Currently the city prohibits retail and medical marijuana sales in the city limits.
City staff had some concerns about the language in the retail marijuana ballot question limiting rules and regulations to those similar to alcohol regulations. Staff told the council it might consider placing its own question on the ballot with different wording.
Some members of the council indicated they were not interested in pursuing any marijuana questions if the petition drives were not successful. Others wanted to think about their options further and talk with more of their constituents.
The council that was present for the work session was in favor of seeking taxation, however, if voters approve marijuana establishments in the city limits. A taxing question could only be asked at the November election.
Staff presented information about how marijuana has affected communities such as Durango and Trinidad that have allowed it to be sold. They shared information regarding revenue, crime, transient populations, law enforcement workloads and other impacts to those communities.
More of Wednesday’s discussion on this issue will be reported in Friday’s Courier.