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Voters will decide whether to lift marijuana ban in Ignacio

Some residents concerned what impact local pot shops will have on teen use
The town of Ignacio plans to put its marijuana ban on the ballot in April. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press file)

Ignacio residents will decide whether to allow marijuana-related business inside town limits – or not – during the April 2022 elections.

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the town of Ignacio opted out of the idea. Since then, Ignacio has prohibited all marijuana-related businesses, whether they deal with medical or recreational use, cultivation, testing, manufacturing or retail. But in response to community feedback questioning the ban, the town board decided to take it to the ballot.

“We are going to start working on different ballot language for them (the trustees) to consider,” said Mark Garcia, interim town manager.

Businesses involved with CBD, a chemical in marijuana that does not cause a high, are allowed in Ignacio. Hemp, a plant in the cannabis family that is grown for industrial use, is also allowed in the town, Garcia said.

This isn’t the first time Ignacio has considered lifting the ban on marijuana. In years past, community members brought the idea forward, but the board of trustees decided to continue with the prohibition on marijuana.

Community members once again have voiced support for lifting the ban. The town held a public comment period in June to gather input about the issue, drawing four comments from community members.

Chris deKay of Ignacio advised town board members to look at vaping. As superintendent of schools, he said he has seen vaping within schools more than double after vapes began to be sold within the town.

Chase Sanchez of La Plata County said he was interested in starting a marijuana-related business and supported lifting the ban. So did two other community members.

Germaine Ewing, one of the supporters and La Plata County resident, said marijuana businesses are often stigmatized even while alcohol-related businesses are not. Weed is legal, and vaping is a separate issue, she said.

Several town trustees have expressed doubts about allowing marijuana-related businesses in the town, citing concerns about youth marijuana use or reluctance to enable substance use.

The majority of trustees supported taking the issue to a vote.

Next, town staff members will draft language for the ballot measure and present it to the board of trustees for approval.

Ballot language could include provisions for taxing marijuana sales, limiting where businesses can be located in relation to schools, what types of use might be permitted and other details.

“(Trustees) can cut and paste to craft the ballot they want,” Garcia said. “We’ll probably do that in the September meeting. We’ve got some time before we have to certify the ballot question.”

smullane@durangoherald.com

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