Diverse opinions on medical marijuana in Garfield County
December 24, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – When Garfield County voters decided to disallow medical marijuana dispensaries and factories in the unincorporated sections of the county, they did so basically along what is known to be a political divide between the eastern and western parts of the county.
But the division between the more liberal east and the more conservative west was not completely impermeable, as a significant number of those in the western precincts voted to allow medical marijuana to be grown in the unincorporated areas.
The questions – 1A, 1B and 1C – asked if voters wanted to prohibit the activities, rather than ask if they should be permitted.
The questions were placed on the ballot after the Colorado Legislature left it up to the counties and municipalities to decide how they wanted to handle the growing medical marijuana industry, which was made legal by a statewide vote in 2000.
According to final Nov. 2 election results issued by the county clerk’s office, county voters decided to disallow dispensaries and manufacturing operations, by margins of 8,775-8,527 for the dispensaries and 8,704-8,583 for the manufacturing.
Voters liked the idea of pot being grown in the vast, sparsely populated and unincorporated areas of the county, however, voting to reject a prohibition against cultivation by a margin of 8,786-8,265.
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Generally speaking, voters in the western portion of the county came down heavily against medical marijuana “centers,” as the dispensaries are now known (question 1A), and against the manufacture of “infused products” (question 1C) and the growing of marijuana to supply the industry (question 1B).
By margins that sometimes reached 2-1, voters from the new part of New Castle and further west voted in favor of the two questions 1A and 1C.
The exceptions to that geographic split were in old New Castle and the Apple Tree Park side of the Colorado River, both of which voted to allow dispensaries to operate in the county.
But where voters in old New Castle also wanted to permit manufacturing of infused products in the unincorporated areas, the electorate of Apple Tree Park did not.
Voters in the eastern half of the county, on the other hand, solidly favored the allowance of all types of medical marijuana business in the unincorporated areas, with the exception of two precincts – Missouri Heights and the areas of Three Mile Road, Four Mile Road and South Canyon.
In those areas, voters sided with their counterparts in the western portion of the county and opted against dispensaries or manufacturing operations.
Things got a little hazier, though, when it came to the growing of pot to keep the centers supplied.
Question 1B was rejected – meaning voters favored the cultivation of pot in the unincorporated parts of the county – with the margin of “no” votes came from precincts spread between Carbondale to Silt.
There were only two exceptions to that trend. Voters in precinct 12, or West Glenwood Springs, voted for prohibiting cultivation, as did voters in Precinct 16, the central part of Silt.
The precinct south of Silt, however, voted by a slim margin, 370-340, to permit cultivation.
From Silt Mesa to the west, voters were solidly against cultivation.
As the county gets set to enter 2011, the planning department is working on regulations to govern the cultivation of pot, according to county manager Ed Green.
Planning Director Fred Jarman explained in an e-mail that the proposed new rules should go before the Board of County Commissioners in March or April of 2011.