DACONO — The outcome of a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries now awaits the input of city residents.
The wording of a May 7 special election question about the ban, which went into effect at the end of last year, received the unanimous support of council March 11, along with the backing of dispensary owners and petitioners.
On second reading, council approved changes to the ballot to remove contradictions that could have created a possible scenario where the ban on dispensaries is lifted but the city would be unable to issue business licenses.
This contradiction originated last year, when petitioners submitted the request for the special election. The original language of the petition would have allowed the dispensaries with valid business licenses to operate within the city.
But no business would possess a license because current municipal code prohibits the operation of dispensaries.
In a Feb. 12 work session, city officials and dispensary owners met to work out this contradiction, which also passed with unanimous support during the first reading last month.
The new wording would allow for dispensaries to acquire a valid business license if voters approve lifting the ban in May.
City Manager AJ Euckert said the petitioners, who brought the required signatures to the city clerk to create the special election, are pleased with the changes.
“They both indicated they liked this ordinance; they willing to replace theirs with this one,” Euckert said.
Euckert also alerted council to one change made during first reading of the ordinance.
“It’s been the only change: we removed two subsections that would have required city sales tax to be collected on medical marijuana deliveries to a residence,” Euckert said. “We’ve since found out that that’s not permitted under state rules, so we felt it was just better to take that section out.”
During public comment, Dacono resident Richard Kimble expressed concerns that the push to legalize marijuana would damage the country’s commitments to the international war on drugs.
“What happens if the United States’ federal government turns around and says ‘OK, we’re not going to allow this; marijuana is going to be illegal,’” Kimble asked. “Is the city of Dacono, are they going to have their — how would you say? — have to defend what their position would be on this when and if this passes?”
City Attorney Kathleen Kelly responded that the ordinance recognizes the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
“The city can’t, by its actions, make something lawful that is illegal under federal law,” Kelly said. “On the flip side, it’s not the city’s police department’s role to enforce federal law. So any enforcement of federal law would have to be undertaken by federal agents, U.S. attorneys — and that could happen. And the ordinance does contemplate that possibility.”
In the ordinance, there is a provision that states that in order for the city to accept a business license from a medical marijuana dispensary, the licensee must waive the city from “any implications of federal law being enforced.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.