EAGLE, Colorado - Eagle voters Tuesday approved a special-election question allowing Sweet Leaf Pioneer medical-marijuana dispensary to remain open by a vote of 634 in favor and 491 opposed.
A total of 1,125 ballots were cast in Tuesdays election. The winning margin was 56 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed.
The in-person voting was quiet, but more than half of the mail-in ballots sent out had been returned by Tuesday afternoon for Eagle's election.
Sweet Leaf Pioneer has been permitted by the town and open for business at a location on Chambers Avenue since 2009. In February 2011, the Eagle Town Board decided to ban medical marijuana dispensary and stipulated that the town's lone dispensary would have to close down by November.
By the end of October, the Sweet Leaf collected petition signatures and won the right to have the special election as well as stay open through the election despite the town's deadline to close.
Tuesday afternoon, 10 voters who were polled between 2 and 3 p.m. were mostly in favor of Sweet Leaf. Only one middle-aged woman said, as she hurried out the door, that she had voted against the business. Another man declined to say how he had voted but that he was glad people were participating in the election.
The main reason for support generally centered around the fairness of permitting a business for two years and then deciding to shut it down.
"I figure if (Eagle Town Board) can run them out of business, then they can run me out of business," said an Eagle business owner.
A 51-year-old man basically agreed and said he thought the wording of the ballot issue was confusing.
"If (Eagle Town Board) gave approval in the first place, it's not right to take it away," he said. "I also thought the language was confusing. I wondered if checking 'no' meant I was voting in favor, or vice versa - and I have some legal training."
A 44-year-old woman said she voted yes, in favor of Sweet Leaf.
"I feel like the town should stand by what they said," she said.
Another woman agreed.
"I voted yes because the owner has complied with everything and (Eagle Town Board) told him yes, he could have that business, and it's unfair to say yes and then say no," said the 47-year-old.
"There is no reason to shut down an operation that has been in business and is succeeding and was allowed in the first place," said a young man who declined to give his exact age.
"Having marijuana regulated is better than not," said a 57-year-old man who said he does not use the drug but voted in support of the business.
"I think (medical marijuana) is a good thing and is a lot better than being addicted to prescription painkillers or alcohol," said a 47-year-old man.
"And why not benefit from the tax money the business brings in?" added a 41-year-old woman.