No special election for marijuana issue


ALAMOSA — A ballot question seeking to ban outdoor marijuana grows in Alamosa will have to wait until 2019.

Although Alamosa City Clerk Holly Martinez deemed that petitioners now have enough valid signatures to present the matter to the city council for action or a ballot question, they do not have enough valid signatures to trigger a special election this year.

Petitioners had asked the city to change the ordinance passed last year concerning personal marijuana use in the city limits. The ordinance currently permits outdoor marijuana grows for personal use. Petitioners are seeking to ban outdoor growing.

Martinez explained she validated 309 petition signatures out of 364 submitted but would need 318 to meet the requirement of 15 percent of the total number of electors to vote in the last election to push the matter to a special election.

(Martinez deemed the initial batch of petitions earlier this year to be insufficient, but petitioners had additional time to submit more petitions, which they did, and the final tally provided sufficient valid signatures to move the issue forward.)

The petitioners did gather 10 percent, however, she added, which means unless the council moves towards an ordinance change before that time, the matter will go to the voters in the 2019 election. The city will have an election that year anyway, with council seats up for election.

Martinez said if the city had had to host a special election for the marijuana question this year, it would have cost about $11,000. She said the city will spend about $10,000 on the 2019 election, but that is already scheduled for that year.

Martinez explained that the Alamosa city council must adopt an ordinance complying with the petitioners’ request within 30 days or elect to place it before the voters in the General City Election of 2019. The matter will be on the April 18th agenda for action.

Martinez also explained to the petitioners that the issue will go forward to the 2019 ballot unless the council acts on an ordinance change before that time or the majority of the three petition sponsors decide to withdraw their petitions in time to pull the issue from the 2019 ballot. The three petition sponsors are Joan Couture, Naomi Cook and Wanda Sue Eberly.

During the public comment of Wednesday night’s council meeting, Shanna Hobbs said she was glad the issue did not receive enough signatures to require a special election this year. “I am really glad the city doesn’t have to waste money on that type of issue that was obviously built to take away rights of the people it was intended to serve,” she said.