Eagle County mulls wording of marijuana question
August 24, 2010
EAGLE, Colorado – Eagle County voters will be asked this fall whether or not to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. But how they’ll be asked is taking some time.
At the urging of an attorney for one of the dispensaries, voters will be asked if they want to keep the medical marijuana businesses operating. The original ballot language asked voters if they wanted to ban the shops. The commissioners have said they’ll abide by the results of the vote, although it won’t have the force of law.
A new state law passed this year gives local governments the power to regulate, license or ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The business has boomed since federal officials last year said they wouldn’t interfere with states that have medical marijuana laws. Marijuana possession remains a federal crime.
“Words matter, and how you ask the question is important,” said Rohn Robbins, an attorney for one of the county’s dispensaries.
Commissioners Jon Stavney and Peter Runyon agreed with Robbins’ request, with a few strings attached.
“As a commissioner, I don’t intend to not regulate this,” Stavney said. “But the real question here is what’s clearest to the voters.”
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Runyon agreed that clarity to voters is essential.
“If I’m for this, I vote yes; if I’m against it, I vote no,” Runyon said.
Commissioner Sara Fisher said she didn’t have a problem with the original language, which asked voters whether or not to prohibit the shops, but said she wouldn’t object to asking the question the other way, either.
Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu told the commissioners he doesn’t have a real problem with the way the question is worded, since the ballot question is advisory only.
“It’s like the smoking ban question you asked voters,” Treu said. “This helps you make a decision you already can make.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.