Question 301 would repeal City Code that banned medical marijuana dispensaries

As Colorado mulls over whether or not to legalize marijuana with Amendment 64, a less publicized measure on the local ballot could impact medical marijuana in Fort Collins.

Initiated Question 301, if approved, would overturn a ban of medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits — a band that’s been in place since Proposition 300 was passed during the 2011 election.

Brian Vicente, a Denver based lawyer, medical marijuana advocate and one of the people who helped design 301, said that the dispensaries benefit the community.

“They’re providing medicine to sick people  — that’s a crucial component, but they’re also providing large amounts of tax revenue every single month, we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars statewide,” Vicente said.

Others, like former Fort Collins mayor Ray Martinez, say the dispensaries would not benefit the community.

“I don’t think they benefit (the community) at all,” Martinez said.

Martinez said dispensaries haven’t solved any problems and, if anything, created their own black market of backdoor dispensary marijuana.

“That’s false,” Martinez said when asked about the claim that dispensaries provide better service, medicine and prices. “Their prices are higher, they don’t give better service, you got store clerks who are not pharmacy trained that are telling you how to use marijuana, give me a break.”

Martinez also stated it isn’t any harder for medical patients to get their marijuana without dispensaries than it was with them. In Martinez’s opinion, caretakers ran the system much better.

Kevin Ballinger, the owner of Herb’s Medicinal in Berthoud, said he thought a staff could do a better job than caretakers. He also said that before the ban he used to be a welcomed member of his community.

“Everyone was fine with me in this town, until Ray Martinez and the sheriff decided to come down and go to the churches and tell the churches how stupid they were for allowing us to be in their community,” Ballinger said.

Collegian writer Matt Gabriel can be reached at news@collegian.com.