Aloha’s owner readies campaign in Routt County

Chris Ward to encourage support of medical marijuana in county

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Election 2011

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Ballot language

Routt County

Referendum 1A

Pursuant to the authority granted by C.R.S Section 12-43.3-106, shall all medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations and/or medical marijuana-infused products manufacturers’ licenses, as those terms are defined in C.R.S. Section 12-3-104, not previously prohibited by Routt County Resolution No. 2011-33 be prohibited within the unincorporated boundaries of Routt County, Colorado, effective January, 1, 2012?

Steamboat Springs

Referendum 2C

Shall the City of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, ban, effective January 1, 2012, the cultivation, manufacture and sale of medical marijuana, including the operations of medical marijuana centers, optional premise cultivation operations, and the manufacture of medical marijuana-infused products, unless such person does so as a patient or primary caregiver as authorized by Art. XVIII, Sec. 14 of the Colorado Constitution and pursuant to regulations enacted by the City; further authorizing the City to codify this ban in the Municipal Code?

Oak Creek

Referendum 2E

Shall the proposed initiated ordinance prohibiting any person from operating medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations, and medical marijuana-infused products manufacturers’ licenses in the Town of Oak Creek, Colorado in accordance with the requirements of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code; and recognizing and affirming the ability of patients and primary caregivers to otherwise be afforded the protection of Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Colorado Constition and Colorado law be adopted?

Yampa

Referendum 2A

Shall the operation and licensing of medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations, and medical marijuana-infused products manufacturers be prohibited in the Town of Yampa, Colorado in accordance with the requirements of Colorado law?

— Aloha’s medical marijuana dispensary owner Chris Ward is gearing up for a campaign to oppose a county ballot question that, if approved by voters Nov. 1, would shut down his Milner-based business. He appears to be the only one on either side of the issue readying for a public campaign push.

Ward said he will use radio and newspaper advertising as well as direct mail and yard signs to urge voters to check the “no” box on Referendum 1A. He also plans to go door to door in outlying areas of the county to speak with residents about the issue.

But voters won’t receive Ward’s information or see him canvassing their neighborhoods until the first week in October. Mail ballots are scheduled to go out starting Oct. 11.

“I feel like if you start too early, you’re beating a dead horse,” he said. “We’ll start sooner to the election.”

Ward said his campaign would focus on educating the public about how to vote, whether they support or oppose medical marijuana businesses. He said the way the questions are worded is confusing.

“We just want people to be clear,” Ward said. “It’s fair to the people. I don’t want to push people one way or the other.”

Ward doesn’t plan to work with other local dispensary owners on the campaign, even though all county voters will consider whether to allow Aloha’s continued operation. Voters in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Yampa also will consider different questions asking them whether to ban medical marijuana businesses in the respective municipalities.

Kevin Fisher, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Remedies in Steamboat, said he has no plans to work with Ward, either. Fisher said that he and owners of the other two Steamboat dispensaries have talked about collaborating on a potential campaign push but that they have made no immediate plans to do so.

“As of right now, we’re just focusing on making sure people are registered to vote,” he said.

Fisher said Rocky Mountain Remedies is helping residents register to vote and update their status. Voters are considered inactive if they didn’t vote in the 2010 general election or have moved since and haven’t updated their address. They can do so by going to www.govotecolorado.com by Oct. 3.

Dr. Kelly Victory, who with Steamboat resident Lisa Watts started a group to oppose local medical marijuana businesses, wrote in an email that they don’t have plans to begin a formal campaign.

“She and I continue to work in the community, meeting with, speaking with, and educating voters regarding the medical marijuana industry, and we intend to do so until the election in November,” Victory wrote. “More and more groups have reached out to us requesting that we speak to their memberships, and we have made that effort a priority.”

If voters approve the county vote, Ward would have until Jan. 1 to close down his business. Ward said he likely would move it to Craig or somewhere on the Front Range.

Ward thinks local residents are split in their opinions about medical marijuana.

“I believe this vote margin is only going to be by 2 or 3 percent, by either party,” he said. “It’s going to be super close.”

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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