Marijuana petitions submitted

ALAMOSA — Petitioners submitted to Alamosa City Clerk Holly Martinez on Monday signatures to place medical and retail marijuana questions on this November’s ballot.

Petition organizer Shanna Hobbs said on Tuesday that she turned in 418 signatures seeking the retail marijuana question and 403 for the medical marijuana question, nearly twice the required 212 valid signatures for both issues. Hobbs said Martinez told her she would begin verifying the signatures next week when city staff returns from vacations.

Hobbs said she has until August 8 to collect signatures to place the ballot questions before voters this fall, and she will continue to collect signatures between now and then in case some of those already submitted are not valid. She added the city has until September 8 to finalize the ballot questions.

Voters will be asked to allow the sale of retail marijuana and/or the sale of medical marijuana in the city limits. The questions will be posed separately.

Hobbs said the city council would probably want to add a question or two of their own to accompany the citizen-driven marijuana measures, because she was not allowed to petition a tax question but the city could draft one. The council could decide to ask voters for specific marijuana taxes to accompany the sale of medical and retail marijuana, should voters approve one or both measures this fall.

Hobbs had undertaken a petition drive last year to place the questions on the November 2016 ballot but was not successful in gathering enough signatures in time. She said on Tuesday that this year she and other petitioners had more time, were more organized and had more volunteers to gather the required signatures.

She added that proponents of marijuana sales in the city limits will switch gears from petition gathering to education and as part of that effort will host the first San Luis Valley cannabis festival on August 25 at the Rodeway in Alamosa. Consumption will not occur at what Hobbs called an “infotainment” event, but product vendors from other cities in the state will be present, and information will be shared, Hobbs explained. There will also be live entertainment and fund-raising to promote the election, for example to purchase yard signs and banners.

“I am very optimistic,” Hobbs said.

She invited those wishing more information to contact her at High Valley Healing, which she manages on West Highway 160 outside the city limits, at 719-206-3345.