Craig City Council votes to draft recreational marijuana ballot question | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig City Council votes to draft recreational marijuana ballot question

Lauren Blair

Craig City Council asked the city attorney Tuesday night to draft language for a recreational marijuana ballot question that will go before Craig voters at the April 4, 2017 election.

— A request to add a recreational cannabis measure to the April ballot revealed staunch ideological divisions between councilmembers at Tuesday's Craig City Council meeting.

The board voted 4 to 3 in favor of drafting a ballot question regarding recreational marijuana, which City Attorney Sherman Romney will present to the board next month.

"I think it's important that we let the voters of Craig decide if they want marijuana in the city of Craig or not," said Councilmember John Ponikvar. "There's certainly going to be a difference of opinion, and the community deserves to have the opportunity to discuss it."

Several members of the Committee to Grow Craig came before the board to make the request after failing to gather enough signatures this summer to put its own measure directly on the ballot.

"I came across a staggering number of people saying they'd support it but wouldn't sign the petition," said committee member Paul James. "People are just worried about what other people are going to think if they see their names on that petition."

Council members John Ponikvar, Jarrod Ogden, Derek Duran and Mayor Ray Beck voted in favor of adding the measure to the ballot while Kent Nielson, Joe Bird and Tony Bohrer voted against it.

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"In my opinion, the community has already spoken. They couldn't get 940 signatures," Nielson said.

There are several avenues to adding measures to the ballot, Romney explained. One is a petition drive, an effort led by citizens interested in taking their issue directly to voters. Alternatively, the council can create an ordinance without the vote of the electorate, or can pass an ordinance to put the question before voters.

One advantage to the city council adding the question to the ballot itself is it can craft the language according to what would be most practical to implement.

"They can go out and get signatures… and we're going to be stuck with their 20-page ordinance," Ponikvar said. "But this way, we'll have the ability to control it… We have the ability to write our own ordinance to something that would be workable for the city to implement."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.