Should Eagle’s dispensary stay open? | VailDaily.com
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Should Eagle’s dispensary stay open?

EAGLE – On Tuesday, Eagle voters will decide the future of medical marijuana dispensaries in the community.

Voters who are registered to receive their ballots by mail have had them in hand for three weeks now. For everyone else, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Eagle Town Hall, 200 Broadway.

Earlier this year, the lone medical marijuana dispensary in town – the Sweet Leaf Pioneer – turned in petitions to call for an election in Eagle regarding the medical marijuana issue. The business needed 190 valid petition signatures to force an election. The Sweet Leaf petitions contained 281 signatures and after examining the documents to determine validity, Eagle Town Clerk Marilene Miller was able to certify that 200 of the petition signers were registered voters in the town of Eagle, as required by law.



Back in 2009, Eagle approved an ordinance to allow medical marijuana operations in the town, but in February 2011, the town board enacted a ban of such businesses. Citing revised rules from the Colorado Legislature governing the operation of medical marijuana operations, the town followed the actions of Vail, Avon and Gypsum in enacting the ban. At the time of the vote, the town board gave the Sweet Leaf Pioneer an operation extension until Nov. 1 of last year. A legal settlement between the Sweet Leaf Pioneer and the town has allowed the dispensary to stay open pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

As the election has drawn closer, there’s been a scuffle over disappearing lawn signs, a public forum to discuss the effects of youth marijuana use and the usual back-and-forth debate in letters to the editor.



Here are arguments for and arguments against the ballot issue, which reads as follows:

Medical Marijuana Businesses Question:

Shall Ordinance No. 11, Series of 2011, an ordinance amending Section 9.15.110 of the Eagle Municipal Code and Ordinance No. 4 Series of 2011, allowing an existing medical marijuana center, optional premise cultivation operation, and medical marijuana infused product manufacturer that existed prior to Nov. 1, 2011, and who applied to the State of Colorado for a license under the medical marijuana code prior to Aug. 1, 2010, to operate such business upon approval of such ordinance, as long as such businesses comply with all applicable state and local laws and regulations, be adopted?



What do opponents of medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle have to say?

• There are currently 159,559 medical marijuana applications in Colorado. Sixty-eight percent of medical marijuana cardholders are male and the average age of cardholders is 42 years. The most common reason for seeking a medical marijuana card is “chronic pain.” There are currently 1,000 cardholders in Eagle County.

http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hs/meicalmarimiuan/statistics.html

• The profile of the average medical marijuana cardholder matches the profile of the average recreational drug user.

– Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Dec. 13.

• Five doctors in Colorado have made more than half of all the medical marijuana card referrals in the state.

– Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Dec. 13.

• Medical marijuana patients are now the primary source for adolescents to obtain the drug.

– Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Dec. 13.

• Medical marijuana dispensaries increase the availability of marijuana in a community for all residents, including youth. The increased availability of the drug has resulted in increased acceptability regarding its recreational use.

– Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Dec. 13.

• The more available a drug is, the more socially acceptable it is to use it and the less harm the drug is perceived to have, the more likely teens are to use the drug.

– “Understand the Big Deal – How Marijuana Harms Youth.” Publication from the Expelled and At-Risk Student Services Grant Program administered by the Dropout Prevention and Student Engagement Unit of the Colorado Department of Education.

• In July 2011, the federal government reaffirmed a marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. “Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or the substance under medical supervision. Possession and use of marijuana remains a federal crime.

http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html

• The marijuana smoked today is more potent and addictive. For decades, the level of tetrahydocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s active ingredient, averaged 2.3 percent. Today’s marijuana average THC level exceeds 8 percent and often reaches 35 percent in medical grades.

– “Understand the Big Deal – How Marijuana Harms Youth.” Publication from the Expelled and At-Risk Student Services Grant Program administered by the Dropout Prevention and Student Engagement Unit of the Colorado Department of Education.

• Marijuana has not found regular use in medical practice because of its associated risks and the poor efficacy of the drug.

– American Academy of Pediatrics

• Medical research has established that adolescence is a period of neurodevelopment vulnerability for developing addiction; age at first use is inversely correlated with lifetime incidence of developing a substance use disorder.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1330.full.html

• More teens enter treatment each year with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Currently 62 percent of teens in drug treatment are dependent on marijuana.

http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofact/marijuana.html

• During the 2009-10 academic year, Colorado schools recorded 5,048 disciplinary reports for drug offenses, a 35 percent increase from the previous school year.

– “Understand the Big Deal – How marijuana harms youth. Publication from the Expelled and At-Risk Student Services Grant Program administered by the Dropout Prevention and Student Engagement Unit of the Colorado Department of Education.

What do supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle have to say?

• “It’s not fair to change the rules. The town of Eagle permitted a business and then changed their minds after an Eagle family invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into it.” – Sean McAllister, attorney representing Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “A legal dispensary provides patients with safe access to the drug. The business is known and regulated by the government. It also provides sales tax revenue to the town.” – Sean McAllister, attorney representing Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “If voters shut (the Sweet Leaf) down, Eagle will get a black market where unregulated caregivers cultivate marijuana in their basements and where children might more easily be exposed to it.” – Sean McAllister, attorney representing Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “This election is about restoring the will of the voters. The business was initially approved and then despite every vote on record, Eagle Town Board decided to go against the will of the voters. This goes back to how it’s not right to change the rules.” – Sean McAllister, attorney representing Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “People think the medical marijuana guys are getting rich. That is not the case. These are often small family businesses.” – Sean McAllister, attorney representing Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “There is a need in this community to have safe, regulated access to marijuana. Only licensed cardholders can enter the facility and The local licensing authority would have control to regulate with the MMJ Center model. In this way cannabis patients have safe access and no shortage of caregivers.” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “The town and state collect licensing fees and tax revenue is provided to the community.” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “The community has shown it supports its members and small businesses during a hard recession.” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• The business creates jobs and supports the community (the Sweet Leaf has been doing a food drive for a local food bank through the holiday season).” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “There is full transparency: all product is tagged, batched and tracked from seed to sale and there is open bookkeeping for law enforcement and auditors; following stringent security requirements, there is 24/7 surveillance with capability to upload footage to law enforcement and there are extensive background checks on owners (there must be no criminal element on record).” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “The proposed ban will not ban medical marijuana. Rather it will take purchases out of highly regulated, secured and taxed centers and push them into our neighborhoods. There are already problems associated with growing in residences, including home invasions, fires, and rental property damage. The lack of monitoring also increases the risk of child access as excess product is easily diverted to the black market. Medical Marijuana Centers are necessary to keep our neighborhoods safer.” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer

• “We do not believe children should have medical marijuana. If they do, that is between their doctor and parents. If a patient needs medical marijuana in the town of Eagle, he or she should be able to have safe access. For the patients that do not have a vehicle, they should have a close MMJ Center to turn to. We have been lifelong locals. Our store has been open for nearly two years without incidents. We know our community and would like to stay in our community so we can move forward with helping the community in a regulated, safe atmosphere.” – Sweet Leaf Pioneer


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