Delta County Bans Commercial Marijuana

Feb 5, 2013

Yesterday Delta County Commissioners passed an ordinance banning commercial marijuana enterprises in the unincorporated areas of the county. Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana in Colorado, allows counties to opt out of some provisions. A small group attended the commissioners’ regular meeting to discuss the issue. KVNF’s Marty Durlin reported on the story.

Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee (right) was part of the crowd Monday when commissioners passed an ordinance banning commercial marijuana enterprises in the unincorporated areas.

Some had already made their views known two weeks earlier, urging commissioners to change or at least delay the ordinance until the state has enacted regulatory policy. But commissioners dismissed the complaints, and without further citizen comment, unanimously voted to pass the ordinance as written.

Afterward, people upset with the action clogged the hallway outside the meeting room. Lamborn Mesa farmer Jere Lowe was particularly frustrated. Earlier, he had asked about the condition of the county road leading to his farm, and about the continued delay of a getting a hazardous waste facility in the county. Commissioner Bruce Hovde told him both were due to the County’s lack of money.

"Yet they want to turn down a revenue source here," said Lowe. "That seems completely out of whack. There’s another thing they’re probably not realizing. There will be enormous legal dispensaries on the Front Range feeding millions of Coloradoans and tourists their marijuana at the retail level. We as farmers out here in the rural area of Delta County want to feed that market with our world-famous North Fork product."

Lowe continued, "As far as the unincorporated parts of Delta County are concerned, I don’t think we’re really interested in seeing pot shops pop up. We’re more interested in the commercial agriculture production. And there’s also a model for tourism that would be similar to wineries and tasting rooms that could come available to us right now. Every citizen can grow in their yards right now. It’s of no benefit to Delta County to cut the farmers out of the deal."

Lowe says commercial marijuana production would be a win-win situation for everyone, with tax revenues for governments, and employment opportunities for residents. Delta County will allow hemp production – but in the buzzing hallway, that was viewed as a Republican conspiracy.

One citizen was overheard in the hallway saying, "What’s going on right now is that Republicans are wanting to heavily promote hemp farming, so the pollen will go in the air and you cannot grow outdoors. "

Marijuana activists aren’t through yet. Lowe says they’re forming a political action committee to work on several fronts. "We’ll come back one more time to the commissioners and try to get them to work with us on a reasonable regulatory framework for Delta County as the amendment allows. And if they refuse to do that, we’ll start a recall effort on one path – and then, we’re not allowed to put forth an ordinance to the voter until next year on this issue, that’s written in 64 – but then we’ll write our own regulatory framework the way we want it and get it passed by the voters."

In the meantime, Delta County’s ordinance went into effect immediately.