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  • Pot or No Pot: Question 300 on the Ballot in Lamar

Pot or No Pot: Question 300 on the Ballot in Lamar

By Raina Lucero

November 2, 2022

Next week, voters in Lamar, CO will be tasked with deciding whether to allow marijuana facilities into the community. Ballot question 300 proposes an amendment to the Lamar city charter that would prohibit the issue of any business license for the operation of marijuana businesses including cultivation facilities, marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities, as well as other restrictions.

Ballot question 300 comes less than a year after voters of Lamar voted “yes” on ballot questions 2A and 2B, these measures legalized cannabis sales while the other allowed the city of Lamar to tax it. Months later, Prowers County District Court Judge Mike Davidson invalidated the election results because the city did not obtain enough signatures to meet the city charter’s threshold to legally place them on the 2021 ballot. This was done, at the fault of the city administration who misrepresented to the petitioning group the number of signatures needed to place on the ballot. Questions 2A and 2B passed by more than a 10% margin of votes.

After the election results were invalidated, the City of Lamar held an open forum for the citizens to come and voice their opinions on whether the City of Lamar should then be held accountable to put the measure back on the ballot or if any group who wishes to put it on the ballot should have to once again go through the petitioning process.

Lamar resident Brent Bates spoke at that forum in favor of the counsel referring the measure to the ballot saying that, “This matter is not over, and it will not be for a long time.”

Former Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner stated, “For years I sat up there and said that the city would not put it on the ballot, the same statement that this very board has said. Someone should have to bring a petition with the appropriate number of signatures on it, otherwise, it would look like the city council supports the measure.”

Ultimately the city council voted that if a question to allow recreational marijuana in the city of Lamar were to be placed on the ballot, it would need to be done by petition of the people.

Brent Bates and others who support the passage of marijuana in the town have teamed up with the group, Colorado NORML. According to their website, “Colorado NORML is dedicated to reforming marijuana laws and protecting the marijuana consumer. Colorado NORML also supports NORML’s mission of moving public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to criminal sanction.”

With the help of Colorado NORML and an election attorney, Bates and others have submitted 2 separate petitions as well as accompanying ordinances to town clerk Linda Williams. On both occasions the petitions and ordinances were rejected by the guidance of city attorney Lance Clarke. Reasons for the rejection cited, “insufficient scope and content”, numbering errors, and for containing wording that is both “legislative and administrative.”

Bates would go on to attend numerous city council meetings to address the board about the rejections and ask for clarification only to be stonewalled to wait for the city attorneys email responses.

In the meantime, the Lamar Heritage Defenders found their own way to stop recreational marijuana sales and production in Lamar, Ballot Question 300. Belinda Sturges, who is a supporter of Question 300, said the proposal gives citizens more power over marijuana decisions in their community.

“This is such a critical issue that affects everybody in the city we felt it’s so important that they have the right to vote on it,” said Sturges.

Sturges played a vital role in the invalidation of questions 2A and 2B by using open records requests to confirm that the petitioners did not gather enough signatures to mee the city charters requirement of 15% of the prior election turnout. This information was pivotal in the case that invalidated the vote.

Opponents to Question 300 argue that the measure blocks more than marijuana businesses. Brent Bates sees several conflicts between the language of the charter amendment and the current state law granting marijuana protection.

Question 300 proposes a limit of up to one ounce of marijuana may be possessed by adults age 21 and older.

However, Bates explains, “The state Constitution allows anyone with a medical card 18 years and over to possess up to two ounces or more if deemed medically necessary.”

Bates also notes that Amendment 64 already gave adults 21 and older the freedom to grow and consume marijuana at home. State law limits individuals to a maximum of 6 marijuana plants, with three flowering.

He states that, “If you’re growing marijuana, then you’re going to get more than one ounce of marijuana from three plants,” Bates said.

The Lamar Heritage Defenders believe that the position of the Lamar voters has changed since last November and that they have been able to open the eyes of many who were once for marijuana in the town to see the reasons it should not be allowed.

Nonetheless, Bates believes the election results from last November spoke loudly about voters’ support for marijuana legalization.

To be clear if Question 300 does not pass by the voters of Lamar, this does not mean that marijuana will be allowed for sale in Lamar, it only means that there is nothing in the city’s charter that will stop a group from passing around another petition to place it on the next ballot.

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