Medical Cannabis Comeback? Proposal to Overturn Fort Collins MMJ Dispensary Ban on Fall Ballot

Medical marijuana advocates in Fort Collins, Colorado, have succeeded where their counterparts in San Diego failed, gathering enough signatures to get a key cannabis measure on the ballot this fall.

Supporters of a proposal to overturn a recent marijuana dispensary ban in Fort Collins were able to get the 4,302 validated signatures – and then some – required to put the issue in front of voters. They submitted roughly twice the number of signatures needed to ensure the measure qualified for the ballot.

That’s how it’s done.

The Fort Collins medical cannabis community came together to spearhead a successful signature drive – despite the fact that nearly two dozen dispensaries in the city were forced to close this year after voters approved the ban.

It stands in stark contrast to what happened in San Diego, which has also seen its medical marijuana industry decimated in recent times. MMJ supporters there attempted to get a measure on the ballot that would also revive cannabis businesses. But they came up way short in the signature drive because they didn’t have enough resources to mount an effective campaign, signalling limited involvement by current and former cannabis professionals.

This tale of two cities shows once again how important it is for medical marijuana businesses, professionals and those involved in ancillary MMJ companies to get involved politically, whether it involves funneling a few $20 bills to ballot campaigns or volunteering on a Saturday to collect signatures.

The Fort Collins effort still faces an uphill battle, as organizers must now win over a skeptical public. Voters, after all, backed a ban just last year. But getting the issue on the ballot is a major coup and at least gives the industry a fighting chance come November.

4 comments on “Medical Cannabis Comeback? Proposal to Overturn Fort Collins MMJ Dispensary Ban on Fall Ballot
  1. James Slatic on

    I wanted to give you a different perspective on your comments
    regarding San Diego.
    Today you compared Ft. Collins and San Diego and there are some significant differences.
    1. While Ft Collins got their measure on the ballot with 4,302 signatures, San Diego requires 44,805 valid signatures.
    2. When our activism got the dispensary ban overturned in 2011 the MMJ community invested over $100,000 in the effort, and “succeeded”, only to see the city use zoning and federal powers to close 220 storefronts, a dubious victory at best.
    3. The community then spent over $65,000 towards developing and drafting the proposed ballot proposition with increased federal raids and “landlord letters” going out to current property owners.
    4. Rules for submitted and verifying signatures are very arcane and the city put a further “hurdle” in our path by ruling that any invalid signatures would “disqualify 2 valid ones”. Making use of professional signature gathering almost mandatory.
    5. Our Governor, Jerry Brown, is proposing a tax related proposition, and has “upped the market” for professional signature gathering this election from $2.45 per valid name to over $6.00 per name, tripling our cost.
    6. We are pursuing the cities illegal action in the courts, prompting Asst US Attorney to write the judge in our case with a some-what threatening “clarification” letter. (Copy Attached)

    In addition to the above many advocates have spent hundreds of hours communicating with patients and organizing protests at City Hall (picture attached).

    Reply
  2. Doug Banfelder on

    James: Thanks for the additional insights.

    I am curious, though, about the “one bad signature invalidating two others” rule: how could that be constitutional? Did you get to challenge it?

    Good on the community for fighting as it did. The best long-term solution, however, is to put forward a majority of pro-MMJ candidates for City council seats (as well as for the Lege, of course).

    Reply
    • chrisw on

      It does seem unconstitutional, as does raising the cost of paid signature-gatherers more than twofold. I’m trying to find documentation of these moves because we can’t write about it unless we can prove it. Thanks for adding some more insight James. As for the signatures requirements between the two cities, the percentages are roughly the same given the size of the population, so those wash each other out.

      Reply
  3. William A Wigle on

    I’m from the state of Texas. Back several years ago some town legalized MMJ but the doctors were warned that any doctor prescribing MMJ would loose his license for doing it. Can any one tell me what is happening to the MMJ story in this state?

    Reply

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