Craig group advocates for retail marijuana in city
May 22, 2016
A group in Craig is pushing to legalize retail marijuana within the city.
Five members of the Committee to Grow CraigCommittee to Grow Craig advocate for retail pot as a way to create new industry and inject cash into a what they call Craig's “desperate economy.” The group has a Facebook page with 365 members. advocate for retail pot as a way to create new industry and inject cash into a what they call Craig's “desperate economy.” The group has a Facebook page with 365 members.
Committee to Grow Craig advocate for retail pot as a way to create new industry and inject cash into a what they call Craig’s “desperate economy.” The group has a Facebook page with 365 members.
"Every second that we are not doing this, we are wasting time and losing money," said Paul James, one of the five committee members. James works at Craig’s only medical marijuana store on Breeze Street called The Apothecary.
The store sells medical marijuana to patients who carry a medical marijuana card, and it doesn’t sell retail marijuana due to a moratorium that makes it illegal to sell retail pot in Craig.
In 2014, Moffat County residents opted to keep retail marijuana out of the county with 2,860 voting no and 2,011 voting yes.
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On Friday, James and his colleague, John Milligan, filed an ordinance that — if approved under its current language — would allow three retail locations, four grow sites, one manufacturing facility and one testing site in the city of Craig.
The group hopes the ordinance will be adopted by city council or placed on a ballot for voters through petition.
Fifteen percent of registered voters in Craig have to sign in support of the initiative in order for it to be placed on November’s ballot. A majority vote in November would then be necessary for adoption of the ordinance.
James and Milligan are hoping councilmembers approve the initiative because doing so would afford the city an opportunity to propose an increased retail marijuana tax, James said.
"If they just pass it, then they could put on the ballot a vote to increase the excise tax — which is probably their best chance at getting a tax increase approved by the voters," James said.
Facing a potential $600,000 shortfall on the 2017 budget, the city council has already discussed an increase in sales tax.
Craig Mayor Ray Beck said the issue has not previously been presented to city council, but individuals in the community have approached him about missing out on retail marijuana money.
"Just a handful," he said. "I don't think the majority of the people in Craig support that, but I could be wrong."
James and Milligan estimate that three shops and four grow operations could bring around 30 jobs paying well above minimum wage to the area, in addition to promoting tourism and preventing people from travelling to Routt County for pot purchases.
Milligan said he hopes the recent attacks on Moffat County's energy economy will motivate the council and voters to look toward alternative sources of income while sparing locals from paying more taxes.
"We want all those industries to stay going," he said. "Now, we feel like the people will see that we need something to pick the city back up."
The proposed ordinance will be brought before the council after review and briefing, city attorney Sherman Romney said.
For information, visit the committee’s Facebook page, which has gained over 350 members, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/growcraig/.