Tag: 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.

Ray Scott deceives constituents by strategically omitting key info from social media post

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott tried to deceive his constituents in a recent Facebook post.

In the post, Scott pointed to a recent Denver Post article about how Colorado’s marijuana tax revenues are being used, and used the benefit of a sharply truncated headline and added an ominously intro to create the perception that the legislature is misusing marijuana funds. About marijuana tax money, Scott wrote, “If you thought it went to schools this will enlighten you”.

Below is Scott’s actual post (forwarded to me by a friend, because Ray Scott blocks me from his Facebook page):

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.

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,

Sentinel Highlights Mesa County’s Desperate Economy

Today's Sentinel talks about the desperate state of the local economy

Today’s Sentinel talks about the desperate state of the local economy

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel printed an article about the desperate state of Mesa County’s economy on the front page of its Business section today, written by business writer Greg Ruland.

Titled “Living wage tough to come by,” it describes how financially strained Mesa County families are compared to other families across the state. A study that showed that in Mesa County a family of four would need an annual income of $53,000-$65,000 to fund only the most basic needs of housing, food, health care, transportation, child care, taxes and an emergency fund. Ruland writes that the average wage in Mesa County “falls as much as $20,000 short of what single parents with three children must earn to cover the cost of a family’s basic needs.”

The cost of basic needs in Mesa County has increased over the last decade, but during that time wages in our area have stagnated, leaving Mesa County citizens worse off than ever.

A record number of people in Mesa County now use food stamps, and the number has climbed each year for the last eight years. About 18,500 Mesa County residents now receive government food assistance every month — more than double the number who got food assistance in 2008.

Ruland reports that a single mother working two full-time minimum wage jobs in Mesa County to try and support her family would still have an income low enough to qualify for food stamps.

That’s pretty bad, but not bad enough for the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to come anywhere close to supporting an increased minimum wage.

Grand Junction Area Chamber: Let Them Eat Cake

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, secure in her $134k/yr job

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, secure in her $134k/yr job

You’d think the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce would be deeply concerned about this state of affairs, but even in the face of the desperate financial straits of thousands of families in Grand Junction, Diane Schwenke, President of the Grand Junction Chamber, scoffed at the notion that raising the minimum wage (currently $8.23/hour) would benefit local families. In the Sentinel article, she dismisses the notion as “contrary to capitalistic principles,” and suggests that instead government needs to find ways to further lower the cost of basic living necessities, like food and housing. Neither Ruland nor Schwenke mentioned that the federal government already subsidizes a long list of agricultural staples like wheat, corn, soybeans and cotton, and even has a dairy subsidy program that pays farmers whenever milk prices fall below a certain level. In addition to promoting further reliance on government for help, Schwenke, who as always sticks to the same failed ideas she’s backed for decades, added that the quickest way to raise low wages in our area would be to increase oil and gas extraction operations. She sticks to this message despite knowing that disastrous economic fluctuations occur constantly in the oil and gas industry, and that our area’s past of embracing extractive industries like uranium, oil shale, coal, fracking and hazardous waste disposal have wreaked economic, health and environmental havoc on our area’s residents for decades. So why does Ms. Schwenke rely on the same tired, old ideas that have long been proven a bane for our area’s desperate economy?

Weak, barely-legible and ineffective signage attempt to address homelessness and poverty in Grand Junction

Weak, barely-legible and ineffective signage attempt to address homelessness and poverty in Grand Junction

Perhaps it’s because Ms. Schwenke doesn’t need to be concerned with coming up with new ideas to boost Grand Junction’s failing economy. She’s been comfortably entrenched in her position at the Chamber since 1989, even though her activities have brought heavy criticism to the chamber’s untoward political dealings and lip-service programs over the course of her career. The Daily Sentinel reported Ms. Schwenke’s compensation package is $133,930 yearly — about 4.8 times the annual per capita income in Mesa County, and twice Mesa County’s average annual total household income. Ms. Schwenke is obviously free of any concerns about being fired. She doesn’t even seem to need to demonstrate the effectiveness or lack thereof of any economic-related programs at the chamber, either. She doesn’t have to worry about working two jobs or putting food on her own table, so she’s free to repeat tired platitudes about the oil and gas industry being the area’s salvation for as long as she likes. 

For its part, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership referred to this latest devastating report about Mesa County’s abysmal economic status as “a call to action” to recruit higher-paying industries to the area. It’s nice that they seem to care, but like the Chamber, GJEP hasn’t offered any few new ideas about how to do this, either.

Obvious Opportunities Completely Ignored

DenverEconomyIn the mean time, Mesa County families continue to scrape by using food stamps, homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, secondhand stores, food banks and charitable organizations that try to alleviate hunger, like KidsAid, while low-cost, practically-guaranteed effective, obvious new opportunities for economic expansion continue to be completely ignored.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, the new marijuana economy has generated tens of thousands of new high-paying jobs around the state, mostly in mountain towns and on the front range. But not here, because local leaders have banned marijuana-related activity in our area. New marijuana businesses employ tens of thousands of Coloradans as growers, security system installers, lab techs, scientists, agricultural and nursery experts, trimmers and tenders, compliance and quality inspectors, hydroponic equipment sales and experts, agricultural-related sales, accountants, lawyers, blown glass artists, industrial and retail construction companies to build greenhouses and retail stores and specialized distribution systems. While western slope warehouses sit empty, there isn’t enough commercial warehouse space to handle all the new business from the new marijuana economy on the front range. Denver property values are soaring, new houses, condos and shopping malls are being built, while property values in Mesa County are flat or diminishing. The front range’s growth from the new marijuana economy has been so spectacular, television networks are making TV documentaries out of it, drawing more people and investment into the state

But not in Mesa County.

Opportunities to Put Grand Junction on More Maps Passed up

Western slope elected officials also flushed a wonderful opportunity to add Grand Junction to national park maps several years ago after they ditched a massive effort that gained tremendous public, private and business consensus to change the Colorado National Monument into a national park. Keeping the park listed as a national monument keeps tourists driving around Grand Junction looking for a statue or plaque instead of the stunning 28,000 acre area of canyons and stone monoliths that the Monument really is. How many tourists simply stay on I-70 because they think the “monument” is just another statue somewhere? As a national park, the Colorado National Monument could be a much bigger natural tourist attraction. A change of name would be all it would take to give tourists a better idea of what the Colorado National Monument really is. Similarly, tourists don’t know what a “Mcinnis Canyon” is, or why it might be something special to see, because they don’t know what a “McInnis” is. But they would certainly get a much clearer idea of the spectacular scenery they’d encounter if they saw “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area” on the map instead of “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.” If only the more descriptive name referring to the area’s natural features could be restored to western slope maps as well, it could increase the number of people coming to Grand Junction to enjoy more of our outdoor amenities. Changing the names of these areas would only cost a few bucks, and could bring more notoriety and tourist dollars to the area. A cheap and easy fix if there ever was one.

Add a World Class Outdoor Recreational Amenity in Almost Nothing Flat

The maintenance road banks of the Grand Valley Canal System could be a world-class outdoor recreational amenity if a few gates were opened, a few gravel trailheads installed and a few signs put up

The maintenance road banks of the Grand Valley Canal System could be a world-class outdoor recreational amenity if a few gates were opened, a few gravel trailheads installed and a few signs put up

Opening up the Grand Valley’s stunning irrigation canal maintenance banks to non-motorized public recreation would create some of the most fantastically beautiful and accessible strolling, walking, running and mountain biking paths in the U.S. The irrigation canal system and its banks were built by the U.S. government Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1900s as a massive project to help bring settlers to the area by irrigating what would otherwise be arid desert land in the Grand Valley. The canal system criss-crosses the valley from north to south and east to west, and its maintenance banks are a ready-made system of dirt and gravel roadways paralleling some of the most scenic waterways in the western U.S. They run all the way from the spectacular fruit and wine byways in Palisade and East Orchard Mesa, to the beautiful paved riverfront path along the Colorado, from Palisade to the Loma boat put-in. Open a few gates, put in a few gravel parking areas and signage and bingo! The Grand Valley would have a star attraction that would get bicycles off the streets, provide motorless ways to criss-cross the valley, contribute to outdoor recreation and public health and boost tourism. It would also draw outdoor recreationalists who would come and stay in area hotels, dine at area restaurants and shop at local stores. There are already state laws in place protecting private landowners along the banks from liability. More of an effort needs to be made to create this fantastic amenity that lies literally at our feet.

There is SO much waiting to happen in Mesa County, and it has all been nixed for so long. It’s getting painful to see so many obvious ideas for turning Grand Junction into a destination city shunned, dismissed and ignored as impossible by our same old last-century “leaders.”

Until we overhaul and re-stock the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, G.J. City Council and Mesa County Commission and other powerful boards and commissions with an entirely new slate of fresh,open-minded, creative and forward-looking thinkers who really have residents best interests at heart, our area will stay in the same economic death spiral we’ve been in for decades. But keep the same old people in the same positions of power with their same comfortable salaries and solid job security, and we won’t see any new ideas around here in our lifetimes. We’ll keep relying on things like uranium, oil and gas, fracking, creation of more hazardous waste dumps, coal mining and other doomed, last-century industries until Mesa County residents finally decide it’s time for that nonsense to end.

Nevertheless, we owe thanks to Greg Ruland for an excellent article about the continuing problem of Mesa County’s stagnant economy, if not for exploring more ideas about how to improve it.

  

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, November, 2015

ALVoterGuideThis guide offers AnneLandmanBlog’s opinion on upcoming ballot measures and candidates for District 51 School Board, in case you’re wondering who and what to vote for.

Recommendations

Mesa County Valley School District 51 Director for District A (four year term) – Recommended vote: Doug Levinson. 

Mesa Valley School District 51 Director for District B (four year term) – Recommended vote: Paul Pitton

Proposition BB (State-wide measure)- Lets the state keep $52 million of excess marijuana taxes over and above what is allowed by TABOR, and would put it towards public school construction, law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and prevention, youth programs and marijuana education, instead of refunding it to taxpayers (at the rate of approximately $8 per taxpayer).  Recommended vote: YES/FOR

You can see a sample ballot here.

Discussion:

The biggest factor determining AnneLandmanBlog’s choice of school board candidates is that both are endorsed by the Mesa Valley Education Association (MVEA) and the League of Women Voters. The MVEA’s input is particularly important because the organization is made up of teachers, principals, administrators and other employees of District 51. These are the people who are in the schools every day, interacting with students, working with schedules, policies, budgets, building integrity (or lack thereof), testing, curricula and other school-related issues day in and day out. If you want to know what works and what doesn’t in the school district, what schools need and what they don’t, the members of MVEA are the folks to ask.

A Telling Flap over Pitton’s Eligibility

Outgoing board member Ann Tisue (pronounced “Ty-shoo”) recently accused Mr. Pitton of being ineligible to run for the District B seat based on his residency. Her accusation and its aftermath have been quite informative.

It is important to note that Ms. Tisue supports Mr. Pitton’s challenger for the District B seat, Mr. George Rau, incumbent Mr. Jeff Leany, for the District A seat.

Paul Pitton

Paul Pitton

On October 20, Ms. Tisue made a statement to the media about her discovery that Mr. Pitton lives outside District B, as the area is currently drawn on D-51’s area map.

D-51 changed it’s maps not too long ago, and had an outdated map posted on its website during the time candidates were being recruited to run.

As an existing board member, Ms. Tisue should have known that the District is responsible for certifying and approving candidates to run for open board seats, so any judgement about whether a candidate’s residency renders them eligible or ineligible to run would be theirs. But instead of approaching D-51 about the error first, Ms. Tisue ran to the media and used the information to try to malign Mr. Pitton. In a statement to KKCO-TV News, she sniffed,

“I just have a really hard time understanding how he [Mr. Pitton] couldn’t be more careful. If he’s going to be in control of a $100 million budget with 44 schools, I would expect someone that would be a lot more careful.”

The facts were that Mr. Pitton had fulfilled all of the requirements to become a candidate, and the District had qualified him for the ballot. D-51 employee Terri Wells, who serves as secretary to the Board and is the person who certifies candidates’ eligibility to run for open School Board seats, was responsible for the error, not Mr. Pitton.  Mr. Pitton had played by all the rules.

To his credit, Mr. Pitton has said if he wins, he will sell his house and move his family into District B, as it is currently drawn on the map.

That’s dedication.

Ms. Tisue’s hurry to use District 51’s error to try to tarnish Mr. Pitton and malign his ability to serve as a school board member is instructive more about her character than anything else. By association, it is also likely instructive about the character of the people she backs for school board, namely Mr. Rau and Mr. Leany.

P.S. – If you want to avoid the drama of the residency flap completely, Cindy Enos-Martinez is also a good choice for the District B Seat. She has served on the D-51 School Board before and has been on City Council and served as mayor of Grand Junction.

 

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 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.