Let the voters decide – that was the decision of Palisade’s Board of Trustees Tuesday evening, Aug. 26, when faced with the question of whether or not to allow recreational marijuana sales, testing, and cultivation within the legal boundaries of the Town of Palisade.
In a relatively short session before a two-hour budget work session, the Trustees decided to put it to the voters in November. One proposed ballot question will be whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana within town limits, including cultivating, testing, and sale of infused products; and the other question is whether the sale of recreational marijuana (if allowed) should be subject to a transaction fee, or occupation tax as it is also called, on top of the already required state and local sales tax. The amount of the fee would depend on the amount of the sale. As explained by Town Administrator Rich Sales,”Since Palisade is a statutory town, the trustees can set the occupation tax rate and could lower it by ordinance if they choose, but they could not raise it without a vote of the citizens.” Also, due to being statutory, Palisade cannot levy a percentage tax, but must instead use a tiered system.
Suggested fee amounts are: sales under $100 adding the minimum fee of $5, $10 for sales under $500, and $25 on sales of more than $500.
Trustees voted unanimously to put both questions on the November 4 ballot, after discussing the revenue generating possibilities for the town as well as some of the anticipated negative effects if sales of recreational marijuana were to be allowed in Palisade.
Jesse Loughman, operator of Colorado Alternative Care Center (CACC), thought that the wording of the resolutions and ballot questions left room for confusion and could be reworked for more clarity. Desa Loughman, also of the CACC, then explained the difference between cannabis and hemp in answer to a question by Trustee Penny Prinster. Hemp, a variant of the cannabis family, is grown for its fiber, and is very low in THC, so doesn’t really compare to cannabis in medicinal or recreational use. Cultivation of hemp was made legal at the same time that medicinal marijuana was approved.
Administrator Sales alluded to the possibility of raising as much as an extra $50,000 per year in revenue, based on projected sales of $1 million, if a fee were to be added in addition to sales tax.
If voters approve the sale of recreational marijuana in Palisade, the Trustees will then have to make such decisions as how many sales locations will be allowed. For instance, current ordinances allow one medical dispensary per 4,000 residents. They would also have to decide whether there would be any other restrictions placed on sales of recreational marijuana.
There is particular interest at this time in edible cannabis products, since their effects on users are less predictable, compared with inhalation of cannabis.
After consultation with the town’s attorney, Sales informed trustees that the state will be the regulatory authority on infused products, issuing the requirements for percentages of THC allowed.
Palisade resident Charlotte Wheeler presented information to the trustees regarding the vegetation known as ‘foxtails’ that causes a number of health problems and discomfort, particularly for dogs. The west end of Riverbend Park is known to be heavy with foxtails and Wheeler requested more attention from the town maintenance staff, particularly mowing them before the barbed tails developed.
Strip of land
Trustees also approved finalization of the purchase by the town of the property next to and behind the old Packing Shed restaurant, including a large A-frame home and several sheds and outbuildings to the south of the A-frame. The property, officially designated at 909 ½ Iowa, will also need to have one long narrow strip to the west of the Taylor Elementary playground annexed into the Town, with a hearing to be scheduled for an upcoming planning commission meeting.
In addition to knocking down and removing the old ramshackle building next to the restaurant, Sales also announced that they would “spread the sheds;” sharing the sheds south of the A-frame by taking one to the community garden, and offering another to the Taylor Elementary maintenance crew for lawn mower storage. It is hoped that the strip of land bordering Taylor Elementary to the west might be used as a safer route to the elementary school than currently along 8th Street, as well as a possible walkway to Riverbend Park.
Sales also suggested putting the A-frame on the market, since the town had no use for a residence, which trustees approved.
The meeting was adjourned in less than an hour, and trustees went into a two-hour preliminary budget work session. See upcoming story in the Peach Town News for details on the budget process.
All trustees were present for Tuesday’s meeting with the exception of Trustee Susan L’Hommedieu. Meetings of the Town of Palisade Trustees are open to the public and are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the Civic Center meeting room at 341 West 7th Street at 6 p.m. Agendas will be posted at town hall and also on the town website at www.townofpalisade.org prior to each meeting.