Marijuana election concerns raised

ALAMOSA — Shanna Hobbs shared her concerns with the city council this week about pending petitions to reverse outdoor marijuana growing in the City of Alamosa.

Under an ordinance the council passed last year, outdoor growing is permitted for personal use. A group of residents submitted a petition on February 28 asking the council to prohibit outdoor marijuana growing.

The initial petitions were insufficient by about 25 valid signatures. However, the group has time to make up the deficiency, and if sufficiently valid petition signatures are presented, the matter could result in a special election.

If the council does not meet the petitioners’ request by amending the ordinance to ban outdoor growing, the matter would go to the voters. The city does not have an election in the works for other matters, so the election would have to be a special election.

Alamosa City Clerk Holly Martinez told the council on Wednesday that she might be able to coordinate a ballot question with the county’s Primary Election, which would cost about $10,000. An election solely paid for by the city would cost upwards of $15,000, she said.

Martinez said the county has to certify the ballot by April 27, so the city would have to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the county to participate in its election before then. The matter could be placed on the April 4 agenda, she said.

She added that the ballots would be available to all voters because legislation now permits unaffiliated as well as Republican and Democratic voters to participate in the Primary Election. 

Councilman Charles Griego said since the city was not going to put anything on the ballot this year, this election would cost the city at least $10,000 extra, even if the city can coordinate the election with the county.

“I am very disappointed a citizen has used this process to take away rights the state has already given us,” Hobbs said. “We are going to try to protest those petitions. Hopefully it will save you guys having a special election.”

She said the group seeking a ballot question to permit marijuana businesses in Alamosa had not presented their petitions at a time that would have required a special election but instead was able to include those ballot issues in an election the city was already conducting last year.

“Citizens are ready to defend their rights, and they are not going to sit on the couch and let it be taken away,” Hobbs said.

She said she hoped it would not cost the taxpayers money to take away citizens’ rights and put an extra burden on people who could not grow indoors and wanted to take advantage of the three months outdoor growing season in the Valley.