Board declines medical marijuana vote

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— The Hayden Town Board on Thursday declined to vote on a resolution supporting medical marijuana -- an issue most Hayden voters did not support in the past.

Fifty-six percent of Hayden voters opposed a state amendment in 2000 allowing seriously ill individuals to use and grow a limited amount of marijuana with a doctor's prescription.

Statewide voters passed the measure, and there are more than 650 registered users in Colorado, including Don Nord, a Hayden cancer patient whose marijuana was confiscated in 2003 by the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Nord's effort to get the marijuana back eventually made it to U.S. District Court, but the case was thrown out earlier this year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that federal authorities can prosecute medical marijuana users.

Nord came to the Town Board on Sept. 1 asking for a resolution encouraging Colorado senators and representatives to change the law. Oak Creek passed a similar resolution in August.

The Town Board postponed any vote until Thursday to hear residents' feedback.

Trustee Lorraine Johnson said she talked to about 50 people who did not support a resolution.

"They don't want to see the board get involved," she said.

Nord countered that he had a petition with 75 to 100 signatures of Hayden residents in favor of medical marijuana.

Trustee Ken Gibbon worried residents were associating medicinal use with recreational marijuana use.

"I think anything that would help cancer patients should be allowed," he said.

Mayor Chuck Grobe questioned how strongly people felt about the issue.

"Out of those 56 percent, there hasn't been anyone who's come to a meeting to oppose it, which is disheartening to me because I'd like to have a discussion with both sides," he said.

The town received two letters this week from residents concerned about marijuana smoke traveling to neighbors' homes.

"I have never gone outside and smoked," Nord responded. "I keep it in my own home."

In the end, board members did not feel a resolution represented most residents' views of medical marijuana. Gibbon made a motion to approve the resolution, but there was no second, and the motion died.

In other business, the Town Board agreed to endorse Routt County Referendum 1A, which would renew the Purchase of Development Rights program.

Nine years ago, voters approved a 1-mill property tax to help purchase conservation easements and prevent development of agricultural and other land in the county.

The tax sunsets in 2006, and the county is proposing the property tax increase to 1.5 mills and last for 20 years.

Kathy Cline of the Committee to Preserve Ranchlands and Natural Areas explained that almost half the land conserved, about 7,400 acres, has been in West Routt County.

Those projects include about 1,800 acres of Wolf Mountain Ranch next to The Nature Conservancy.

Cline and PDR Citizen Advisory Board member Ron Roundtree emphasized that each PDR dollar has helped leverage about $4 from outside funding sources such as Great Outdoors Colorado.

Trustee Joe Schminkey questioned the fairness of the Wolf Mountain project because the landowner retained several home sites within the property.

Roundtree explained that PDR funds made up about 15 percent of the conservation easement purchase, and the project was the least expensive per acre of any PDR project in the county.

He said the permitted home sites were a better alternative than the land being split into 35-acre ranchettes.

Also Thursday, the board, with little discussion, approved the town's new land-use code and a resolution supporting state referendums C and D.

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