Matt Zalaznick: Vail smokes voters with pot ban |

Matt Zalaznick: Vail smokes voters with pot ban

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO, Colorado

Vail pushes a fun ski town image.

But this week it was a buzz kill – at least for medical marijuana patients who don’t want to leave town to get their ganja. In other words, a free ride on the West Vail Green won’t get you any green leafy.

The Town Council has snuffed out medical marijuana dispensaries. Now that Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a new law that lets towns, cities and counties ban the buds, pot shops will be verboten in Vail.

Never mind that Colorado citizens voted to legalize medical marijuana. But so much for the will of the people when Vail’s upscale image is perceived to be in jeopardy.

Apparently, that sterling reputation for world-classiness isn’t at all sullied by the bottomless barrels of wine served at the town’s highly touted culinary festivals. Or the gallons of cocktails consumed every evening after the slopes close. Or the countless kegs chugged each night in Vail’s famous bars and nightclubs.

It’s a party town, but it’s no madhouse. Visitors won’t have to worry about stoned cancer patients getting out of control – and falling asleep on Bridge Street benches or sitting quietly along Gore Creek while they enjoy the respite from pain that medical marijuana brings.

It’s sad that a little skewed morality (booze good, weed bad) and fears of ruffled reputations convinced the council to deny the sickest among us a little bit of comfort.

But Vail may not be alone. Both Avon and Eagle County said this week that they will reconsider their already strict positions on medical marijuana once the new law allows politicians to overrule their constituents.

Avon placed a moratorium on pot shops, so those hoping to get high in the name of health and wellness should be concerned that the so-called “Heart of the Valley” will soon put the hammer down on therapeutic hemp.

Still, a handful of dispensaries are doing business in Eagle-Vail and Edwards. They’re giving care in pockets of the county not restrained by strict zoning laws passed to keep a lid on this alternative caregiving. One has to wonder, however, if the county, too, will ignore us the people and enact full-blown pot Prohibition in Eagle County.

Margaret Rogers, the lone Vail Town Council member to side with the citizens and vote against the ban, argued that medical marijuana should be taxed. Sure, why not?

Hey if marijuana really is a potent and useful painkiller – if it’s really a medicine – maybe it should be sold in pharmacies alongside far more powerful and far more habit-forming (yet legal) substances.

Regardless, the people voted to give our fellow Coloradans who are in grave pain another way to ease their suffering.

Perhaps the Vail Town Council, if it can’t stomach medical marijuana sales, can at least give the terminally free drink tickets for the next food and wine festival.

Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at or 970-748-2926.

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