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Some speak in favor of retail pot in Bayfield
8/2/2013 By: Carole McWilliams
2nd forum attracts more residents
Twenty to 30 people showed up Tuesday evening for the second community forum on whether retail marijuana businesses should be allowed in Bayfield.
That included almost all those who attended the July 11 forum and were solidly against allowing those businesses. But some people spoke in favor of the businesses Tuesday.
State voter approval of Amendment 64 opened the way for retail marijuana businesses separate from medical marijuana businesses. Local governments have until Oct. 1 to either ban retail marijuana businesses or create regulations for them.
Town Manager Chris La May said the town board will probably discuss the issue on Aug. 6 and vote on a proposal on Aug. 20.
La May invited anyone who didn’t feel comfortable speaking publicly to e-mail comments to him.
One man suggested that to get the real pulse of the community, look at the town vote on Amendment 64 last November.
The County Clerk’s official election results show that in Precinct 20, the yes votes were 53.61 percent. In Precinct 26, the yes votes were 57.18 percent.
County-wide the vote was 17,705 yes to 10,800 no.
Ray Wallace argued there’s no reason to have retail marijuana in Bayfield since adults can get it in Durango or grow their own. He said it’s become socially acceptable for liquor stores to sponsor Little League teams, so he speculated that marijuana stores could eventually be sponsors too. The team could be "The Little Puffers," he joked.
He also had major concern about the town being a draw for marijuana tourism, people coming from other states to buy pot. “It’s not something we want in our town,” he said.
Retired nurse Betsy Romere cited people hospitalized with bad drug trips. “Almost all started with marijuana,” she said but added that not all marijuana users go on to other drugs.
“Be responsible. Go do your own thing, but I don’t want kids to be subjected to things that they shouldn’t have,” Romere said. All the tax money that might come from retail marijuana would go to law enforcement and “taking care of people who don’t follow the rules. I can’t see jeopardizing what we have,” she said.
Ted Jack argued for free enterprise, including retail marijuana.
“Alcohol is the real gateway drug,” Ben Stewart said. He also argued in favor of allowing retail marijuana businesses.
Former town board member Niel Hieb said, “The council was courageous enough in 2010 (to reject medical marijuana businesses). I can only hope they have the courage to do what they have to do. We hold our little town to a higher standard. We can’t all be like Durango or Boulder. There need to be places for people to live without retail marijuana.”
He added, “Nobody is more for free enterprise than my wife and I.”
Erwin Taylor said, “I’m seeing it more in both communities (Bayfield and Ignacio). Marijuana, kids. … When you work with kids for 47 years like I have, you see the changes.” He wanted no part of retail marijuana and suggested the Southern Ute Tribe could call in the feds on anyone possessing or using marijuana within the reservation.
A man who said he is in law enforcement cited the all-cash nature of marijuana businesses, because FDIC insured banks won’t make loans or handle proceeds from those businesses. So it’s a matter of trust that the businesses are accurately reporting their sales and paying taxes on them.
Stewart, who said he used to work at one of the Durango medial marijuana dispensaries, countered, “Every transaction is recorded and videotaped. There’s more tracking of the money and product than with prescription drugs. The record keeping needs to be immaculate or you are hit with heavy fines.”
He continued, “Taxing shops could put money onto (substance abuse) treatment. There are people addicted to marijuana, video games, Big Macs, porn. They should seek help. … The dope is here. If the taxes are collected, law enforcement could get more man-hours and equipment. … Without a recreational shop, there’s no competition to the black market, and the money goes to the black market.”
Mac Burkett commented, “The more we put our stamp of approval on this, the more we are telling our kids it’s okay. I don’t want to do that.”
Taylor said, “Thousands of tribal members have died from alcohol. These things need to go down the drain. It’s not about money. It’s about health – physical, mental, spiritual.”
Ted Jack said, “I don’t think there’s any more marijuana use now than there has ever been. You can have all the laws and enforcement and we still have the problem. Teach your kids and grandkids what it does. I’ve had close friends commit suicide. I’ve seen more devastation from alcohol and prescription drugs than from marijuana… Don’t waste your life on it, but it has good effects too. Hopefully some day we’ll see the real potential of it.”
The law enforcement guy worried about kids eating edible marijuana products. Unsuspecting people have ended up in the emergency room after eating these products, he said.
“I have a concern about my kids going to someone else’s house,” he said. “Pot will be here, but I can’t give my stamp of approval to retail sales.”
Jack said someone who unknowingly ingests a marijuana brownie will work through it if the people around them don’t act like it’s a scary thing.
Stewart said, “You won’t die from an overdose of pot brownies. But if you get a bottle of Oxycontin… It should be about adults making responsible decisions.”
Sandy Wallace commented, “Some people can’t control, or they choose not to make good decisions. It makes more problems for the community. I don’t see any point making it easier for them.”
Jack responded, “It’s easy enough.”
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