All quiet on pot debate in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

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All quiet on pot debate in Steamboat Springs

Groups report little activity before election

Online

To register to vote or to become an active voter, go to http://www.govotecolorado.com.

Ballot questions

■ 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?

■ Routt County

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?

— The medical marijuana debate in Steamboat Springs, which earlier this summer grew to a seemingly fever pitch, has been quiet lately.

That's just the way Kevin Fisher wants it.

"That's how we always inten­ded this industry to be," said Fisher, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Remedies, Steamboat's first medical marijuana dispensary.

The local medical marijuana businesses operated under the radar for their first 18 months after they started opening in fall 2009, but that changed last spring. Fisher and medical marijuana opponents have said advertising by Aloha's, a medical marijuana dispensary in Milner, put the industry in the public spotlight — at least locally.

"It's the influences outside the city in the county who put this on the forefront and put this on the front page," Fisher said. "That's not what this is about. It's about safe access to physician-recommended health care. That's what Steamboat wants. And that's what we want to provide."

Aloha's owner Chris Ward couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Fisher has said he would organize a group to support Steamboat's medical marijuana businesses, but right now he's just encouraging people to register to vote.

Steamboat voters will consider Nov. 1 whether to ban medical marijuana businesses within city limits. The City Council unanimously approved putting the question to voters May 17 after a motion to simply ban the businesses without a public vote failed.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved a ban of future medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of the county June 21. On July 21, the commissioners approved a ballot question that will let county voters decide whether to allow the continued operation of Aloha's.

Steamboat resident Lisa Watts, one of the leaders of a medical marijuana opposition group, said the silence surrounding medical marijuana as the election nears isn't significant.

"I don't think it means anything other than the effort to get the issue on the ballots and in front of the voters has been accomplished," she said. "I think people wrapping up their summers, getting kids into school, has been extremely busy. I think once we get closer to the ballot issue in November and the vote, I think things will amp up as far as community dialogue. I anticipate it will."

Watts said she and Dr. Kelly Victory, who also helped start the opposition group, continue to meet with residents and groups in the county. She said during the next two months the group would focus on an awareness effort.

Colorado voters approved the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation in 2000 by voting in favor of Amendment 20. It also was supported by a majority of county voters.

The City Council approved an ordinance in January 2010 that defined rules for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries after three opened in 2009. Aloha's and Mary's, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oak Creek, opened in 2010.

The businesses continued to operate with little fanfare until last spring, when Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae asked the City Council in April to consider a ban. Watts' group formed in May.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said ballots would be mailed to county voters starting Oct. 11.

Weinland has said unregistered voters have until Oct. 3 to register online at http://www.go

votecolorado.com. Unregistered voters also have until that date to change their status. She said voters are inactive if they didn't cast a ballot in the 2010 general election or if they have moved since then and haven't updated their addresses.

Until the election, Fisher will continue to enjoy the silence.

"We just want to be here doing this quietly and taking care of the people who want to be taken care of," he said.