Category: New marijuana economy

Grand Junction wants to increase its sales tax, but it should stop wasting existing funds and tap obvious sources of new revenue first

As a liberal progressive voter, I believe it is our patriotic duty to pay taxes for public amenities that make our quality of life great, like public safety.

This coming April, though, Grand Junction City Council will ask voters to increase the City’s combined sales tax rate from the current 8.02% to a whopping 9.16%, a rate even higher than the City of Boulder.

City Council has very good arguments for needing more money: we need more fire stations, emergency response times are too long, and we have roads and bridges in need maintenance and repair.

Of course City residents want the safety and security of these amenities, but the City hasn’t done anywhere near all it could to make the best use of revenues it already has, and to create new revenue streams to fund City necessities before it goes to City residents with a request that they pay such a big increase in city sales tax.

Local business owners want “a Chamber for the rest of us”

Shawn Carr, owner of G.J. Computer Center

Two small business owners in Grand Junction are fed up and ready to start a new organization that will do what they thought the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce was supposed to do: boost small local businesses and improve life in town for those struggling at the lower end of the income scale.

Shawn Carr, a technology specialist who owns GJ Computer Center, and Billy Jacobs, owner of XZRT Gaming on Orchard Mesa, say the Grand Junction Area Chamber falls far short of providing local small businesses what they really need.

To illustrate this, Shawn tells how he recently attended a Chamber event  billed as a way for businesses to promote themselves to other businesses. He brought a pocket full of business cards to the event, but when he got there found every booth but one represented a national or international conglomerate based outside of town. He ended up handing out only one business card, and walked away thinking it’s time someone did better than this.

Undecided About Who to Vote for for City Council? Maybe Some Notes from the Candidates Forum March 23 Will Help

The City Council Candidate Forum March 23

For those who couldn’t attend the League of Women Voters City Council Candidate Forum last Thursday, March 23, at City Hall Auditorium, I am sharing my notes here. The notes are not a direct recording of what was said, but rather a synopsis. I wrote as fast as I could!

Names in boldface type indicate the incumbents. Jesse Daniels is challenging Norris for her seat on Council. At age 35, Daniels is the youngest candidate. Duncan McArthur is running unopposed, but you can write in a candidate you’d rather see in his Council seat. Duke Wortmann is a relocation consultant for Mesa Moving and Storage and is challenging incumbent Marty Chazen. Incumbent Rick Taggart is a former executive with Swiss Army Knife, and did not attend the forum, citing a previous engagement. Taggart is running against C. Lincoln Pierce for an At-Large seat on Council. For folks hoping Grand Junction will someday have a recreation/community center, two incumbents, Duncan McArthur and Phyllis Norris, both said clearly they were NOT in favor of building a public community/recreation center.

City Processing Marijuana Petitions

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-12-59-11-pmOn Thursday, November 17, members of Grand Junction Cannabis Action Now (GJCAN) turned petitions in to the City containing 3,300 signatures to get a proposed ordinance (pdf) on next April’s citywide ballot to bring marijuana commerce back to Grand Junction.

The group needs 2,254 valid signatures for the proposal to advance.

The City has ten days from the day the petitions were turned in to validate the signatures, making November 27 the deadline for the city to declare whether the goal was met. City Clerk Stephanie Tuin says they are working now to validate the signatures, and says they actually validate each signature turned in.

If GJCAN has submitted enough valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot, City Council will get an opportunity at its January meeting to approve the petition’s wording and adopt the ordinance as-is. Council’s other option, if they are still too afraid to address the marijuana issue themselves, is to send it to the April ballot for a vote of City residents. Either way, by its inaction on the marijuana issue, Council has missed it’s opportunity to weigh in on the matter and left it to City residents.

That’s probably just as well, though.

Survey: G.J. Chamber Members Don’t Support the Chamber’s Political Meddling

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The website of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says “We take the lead in shaping laws that affect business on the western slope,” but according to a new chamber survey, only a tiny fraction of its members seem to think the chamber should be meddling in government affairs at all.

On October 12, the chamber sent out a survey to its approximately 1,500 member businesses. Only 15 percent of its members responded to it.

One question on the survey asked whether “being the voice of business with government” should be a priority for the chamber. Only 39 percent of the small percentage of business owners who responded said “yes,” showing very few chamber members think the chamber should meddle in government at all. What’s more, fewer than half the respondents (48%) thought the chamber’s Government Affairs committee was even beneficial. According to the survey, only 67 of the chamber’s estimated total 1,500 member businesses said they joined the chamber “to have a stronger voice with government.” When asked about the most important issue business owners face today, not even 5 percent answered that the political environment was important to them.

Focus on the Bright Spots in the Election

sunrise-sunset-sun-calculatorHalf the country woke up this morning despondent, demoralized and in utter dread of what a Trump presidency will mean to this country. We’ve never had a president before who confessed on video to sexually assaulting women and who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. We’re about to find out what that’s like, but everyone — including conservatives — might end up being surprised by what Trump will actually do while he’s in office, since he earned a 76 to a 91% lie rate for everything he said while on the campaign trail. The New York Times even dubbed him “Lord of the Lies.” If it was the right wing’s goal to throw a molotov cocktail into the government of the country they supposedly love so much, then they succeeded.

Want to See Marijuana Commerce Back in Grand Junction? Sign the Petition for a Ballot Measure

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-7-47-02-pmWant to see retail marijuana back in Grand Junction?

Well, so do a lot of other people.

The nonprofit group GJCAN (for “Cannabis Access Now”) is circulating an official petition to get retail marijuana back in the City of Grand Junction. GJCAN is comprised of people who owned the former medical marijuana shops that the City shut down in 2011, as well as caregivers, agriculture suppliers, agricultural students and others who just want to see some much-needed economic growth finally come to Grand Junction.

GJCAN hired an attorney to help them draft the proposed ordinance and the group met with the City Attorney and City Clerk when  formulating the ordinance to assure they were doing everything correctly. GJCAN currently has about 50 people circulating petitions city wide.

G. J. Chamber “Hasn’t Even Considered” Marijuana as a Way to Boost the Local Economy

CLUELESS - Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke, the CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said at a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning that the chamber’s board hasn’t even discussed or considered the possibility of bringing retail marijuana commerce to Grand Junction as a way to boost the local economy.

Schwenke made the statement after being asked about the chamber’s position on retail marijuana, which over the last two years has proven to be one of the biggest economic drivers in elsewhere in the state.

Looking to Spend Your Cash on Legal Weed? Don’t Stop in G.J.!

Billboard on I-70 at the 22 Road entrance to Grand Junction. Got cash for pot? Then drive on through to Parachute!

Billboard on I-70 at the 22 Road entrance to Grand Junction. Got cash for pot? Then stay in the car and keep driving on through to Parachute!

Travelers on I-70 coming into Colorado and looking to spend their cash on legal marijuana see this billboard at the entrance to Grand Junction, urging them to bypass our town and go spend their money in Parachute instead.

And rightly so.

DeBeque’s Economy Booms While Grand Junction’s Languishes

Legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington state may open the door to a new kind of tourism.

The new marijuana economy is helping Colorado towns boom — but not Grand Junction

The little town of DeBeque, population 500, in Mesa County, Colorado, which voted to start selling retail recreational marijuana in 2014, is basking in the financial glow of its decision.

Marijuana sales taxes are now generating more revenue for the town than all the other retail establishments and oil and gas industry impact fees combined.

New Recreational Marijuana Shop Adds 20 Jobs in Parachute

Staff of The Green Joint

Staff of The Green Joint

The town of Parachute, Colorado, in Garfield County, is celebrating the opening of its first recreational pot shop today. Parachute has a population of about 1,000 people, and the new shop, called The Green Joint, has already created 20 new jobs in the town. Parachute is about a 45 minute drive east of Grand Junction on I-70. The Green Joint already has seven other stores in the greater Roaring Fork Valley, including in jGlenwood Springs and Rifle.

In June 2015, the Trustees of the Town of Parachute voted 4-2 to end their ban on recreational marijuana sales in the town, opening the town to the financial benefits of the state’s booming new legal marijuana economy.

It’s no wonder Parachute is celebrating the store’s opening, too. After suffering losses of tax revenue and jobs as a result of the latest downturn in the oil and gas industries, a new 3.5 percent tax on the Green Joint’s sales will go to support support the town’s schools, law enforcement, firefighting and other city services.

Mesa County and Grand Junction remain unable to take advantage of the booming new marijuana economy, since both jurisdictions have banned retail recreational marijuana within their borders, with the exception of incorporated towns within Mesa County, which can make their own rules regarding whether or not to allow marijuana sales.

Main source: New Recreational Marijuana Shop, KREX TV, December 17, 2015,

Mesa County Missing Out On State’s Pot Bonanza

Mesa County's economy languishes while the rest of the state thrives (Photo credit: KKCO 11 News)

Mesa County’s economy languishes while the rest of the state booms (Photo credit: KKCO 11 News)

Recent news reports tell of the Mesa County Commissioners’ current struggle to deal with a $3 million budget deficit due to decreasing tax revenue. At the same time, Grand Junction City Councilors, citing a lack of tax revenue, turn down a chance to host the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a potentially huge economic boon and an event that could draw favorable domestic and international media coverage for the city.

The economy remains bad and getting worse on other fronts in Mesa County, too. Last June, Mesa County saw its biggest jump in unemployment in 12 months, rising 6.6 percent in June alone. The lost jobs are attributed to low gas prices and continuing cutbacks in the oil and gas field, which has a long history locally of being an unreliable, employer locally.

At the same time that Mesa County’s economy is circling the drain, unemployment rates in the rest of the state are tumbling and, according to the Denver Post, have reached new lows not seen since the dot-com boom in the 1990s. Front range rents are high, vacancies are low and by all accounts other parts of the state are buzzing with new and growing economic activity.

So why is Mesa County languishing amid the state’s overall economic bonanza?

Things are bad here in large part because the Mesa County Commissioners and Grand Junction City Council are barring citizens in our area the ability to participate in the booming new marijuana economy.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide 2014

ALVoterGuideThe November, 2014 elections will determine whether western Colorado can finally pull out of its negative economic and political spiral. But many people are so busy making a living and caring for their families that they don’t have time to study up on the candidates and issues. To make things easier for everyone, AnneLandmanBlog is providing this handy voter guide. Here is a list of how to vote if you are unhappy with our area’s status quo, want to protect the gains we’ve already made at the state level, keep extremists and unethical candidates out of public office, get rid of legislators who have failed to help western slope citizens and to make some badly-needed positive changes here western Colorado:

United States Senator: Mark Udall

House Representative for District 3: Abel Tapia

Colorado Governor/Lieutenant Governor: John Hickenlooper/Joe Garcia

Secretary of State: Joe Neguse

State Treasurer: Betsy Markey

State Board of Education: Henry C. Roman

State Senate, District 7: Claudette Konola

State Representative, District 55: Chris Kennedy

County Commissioner, District 2: Mark N. Williams

County Clerk and Recorder: Jennifer Manzanares

Mesa County Sheriff: Write-in candidate Benita Phillips

Amendment 67 (Fetal personhood): NO

your_vote_counts_button_3Amendment 68 (Large-scale gambling to fund schools): NO

Proposition 104 (Forces school district boards to have open meetings): NO

Proposition 105 (Shall genetically-modified foods be labeled as such?): YES

Referred Measure 2A (Shall the town of Palisade allow retail recreational marijuana shops within the town?): YES

Referred Measure 2B (Should the town of Palisade tax the sale of retail recreational marijuana to economically benefit the town?): YES

Referred Measure 2C (Should the town of DeBeque tax the sale of retail recreational marijuana to economically benefit the town?): YES

Related posts:

It’s Time to End GOP Rule in Mesa County, Nov. 2, 2014

Why a Fetus is Not A Person, Oct. 31, 2014

Mesa County Clerk, Sheila Reiner, Makes 2nd Major Screw Up in Palisade Ballots, Oct. 18, 2014

Phillips: WaPo Cites Mesa County Sheriff’s Office as Misspending Public Funds, Oct. 15, 2014

All You Need to Know About Mesa County Politics, All in One Place, Sept. 17, 2014

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County, July 13, 2014

CO House Rep. Ray Scott’s Weird 2014 Bill, Oct. 9, 2014

Ray Scott Tanks Club 20 Debate, Sept. 12, 2014

Colorado Senate District 7: Claudette Konola w. Ray Scott, The Club 20 Debate in Full, Sept. 10, 2014 (video)

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus, July 29, 2014

Clueless CO House Rep. Ray Scott Denies Climate Change, June 24, 2014

McInnis Campaign Fails to Get Permission to Post Signs, Oct. 6, 2014

Congress Suspended Rule to Rename “McInnis Canyons,” Aug. 27, 2014

Petition: Change the name of “McInnis Canyons” Back to Previous Name, Aug. 24, 2014

 

Retail Marijuana Boosts Businesses in Carbondale

Colorado's new marijuana economy is bringing big benefits to towns that embrace it.

Colorado’s new marijuana economy is benefitting towns that embrace it.

Carbondale is one of the few towns on Colorado’s western slope that started selling retail recreational marijuana on January 1, 2014. Only one marijuana shop opened in Carbondale, The Doctor’s Garden, but that one store is boosting the fortunes of other businesses throughout the town. A grocery store across the street from the Doctor’s Garden reports a definite increase in the number of people in town after marijuana became available, and says sales of snacks and drinks increased markedly. New people are also coming to town from other resort towns, like Aspen and Vail, and people are even coming from outside the contiguous U.S., to buy marijuana at the Doctor’s Garden. When the X-Games were ongoing in Aspen last winter, the Carbondale chamber of commerce got a call from an out-of-state ski club seeking to bring 450 people to Carbondale, specifically to go the Doctor’s Garden. Tourists going out of their way to patronize the marijuana shop also patronize other businesses in the course of doing so. Coffee bars report increased business and a local pizza shop, Peppino’s Pizza, reported gaining plenty of new customers after marijuana went on sale last January. Business owners say the demographics of the new visitors are not the “stoner” or younger, slacker-type crowd they expected, but 50-something people, which one business owner described as “an older, normal clientele.”

Source: Colorado Independent, February 5, 2014

Retail Marijuana Coming to DeBeque

DeBequeThe new marijuana economy crept a bit closer to Grand Junction this week, after the citizens of DeBeque, Colorado, just 25 miles east of Grand Junction, voted to approve the sale of retail pot.

DeBeque’s election is an object lesson for everyone who thinks their vote won’t count.

DeBeque has just over 500 residents. Of the 234 ballots sent out, 165 were cast. Of those, 69 were in favor of retail marijuana and 65 against. The measure won by just four votes.

DeBeque’s Town Clerk, Shirley Nichols, reports the election went smoothly, with no questionable ballots.

So, in DeBeque’s case, just four voters indisputably made Colorado history.

Hey, man, but isn’t retail pot illegal in Mesa County?

Amendment 64 legalized recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, but the law allows cities and counties to opt out of permitting retail marijuana commerce within their borders.

In August, 2013, Mesa County’s three Commissioners — Rose Pugliese, John Justman and Steve Aquafresca — unilaterally passed an ordinance banning retail marijuana commerce (pdf) in the county, but the measure only bans retail pot in unincorporated areas of the county. Incorporated cities and towns can make their own choice, so DeBeque, an incorporated town, can do whatever it wants.

And it did.

Interestingly, DeBeque citizens voted down a medical marijuana question in November, 2012. That measure failed by about 13 or 14 votes. So what’s changed since then?

Pot Culture Comes to Grand Junction Despite City and County Bans

Discontent's giant jobbing Bong Guy greets tourists driving into Grand Junction off of I-70B. Art was a creation of their employee Kyle O'Connor.

Discontent’s giant skateboarding, stoned Bong Guy greets tourists driving into Grand Junction off of I-70B. Art was created by their employee Kyle O’Connor.

Try as they may, the Grand Junction City Council, Mesa County Commissioners and even Diane Cox haven’t been able to stop the pot culture from seeping into Grand Junction. It’s starting to show up everywhere these days, despite city and county-wide bans on retail marijuana commerce.

Roasted Espresso and Subs on 5th Street and Colorado Avenue, the coolest coffee bar in town, now offers to add cannabis seeds to any item for $1.50. Shelled cannabis seeds contain a high amount of protein and nutrients like iron, vitamin B and calcium. Reader’s Digest calls them “super seeds” and says they are a “great source of complete protein and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Cannabis seeds also contain phytosterols, plant-based compounds that help lower cholesterol levels.” The THC content of seeds is almost nonexistent.

Discontent at First Street and North Avenue — a high-visibility location at the west entrance to town — bills itself as a “lifestyle store for the counter-culture” and sells a wide selection of pipes, rolling papers, vaporizers, water pipes and other accessories. The quality of their selection of glass art bongs is so magnificent it’s hard to imagine actually using them to smoke. Discontent also carries skateboarding accessories, Van’s sneakers and clothing for the younger set, but they report their clientele has a wide age range. They had one customer who was 85 years old. (Discontent checks date of birth on customers’ IDs.) Discontent is now sporting a huge picture of a stoned, skateboarding bong-guy with bloodshot eyes on its front window.

Tourists coming in off I-70 stop in at Discontent to ask directions to the Colorado National Monument, but the store manager reports the most frequent question from tourists is “Where are the recreational pot shops?” Unfortunately, Discontent must direct them out of town to Rifle, Ridgway or Carbondale, where retail recreational marijuana stores are permitted, to spend their cash. Discontent has been so successful in its current location that they are planning to open a second store in Glenwood Springs, one of the places that has also allowed retail MJ sales. Locals can only watch helplessly as cash-laden pot tourists drive straight through town without stopping and head to points beyond to spend their money.