Craig voters push through recreational marijuana sales |

Craig voters push through recreational marijuana sales

Elections workers Arloa Gerber, left, and Ann Dodd unload a full ballot box Tuesday, Nov. 5, a few hours before polls closed and voters decided whether businesses in Craig can sell recreational marijuana.
Clay Thorp

CRAIG — Voters in Craig legalized the recreational sale of marijuana Tuesday night.

All three of the city’s marijuana-related ballot initiatives passed — including allowing recreational dispensaries to sell marijuana to tourists, visitors and residents. Voters also passed the city’s proposed 4% variable tax on recreational sales — the proceeds from which will all go to the Craig library and the Museum of Northwest Colorado for five years.

Lastly, voters approved of all types of subsequent marijuana-related businesses in Craig, including grow operations, testing facilities, courier operations and others.

Measure 2D — regarding amending the Craig city charter to move the April election to November in odd years starting in 2021 — also passed.

“It was busy all day long with people registering (and voting),” said Craig City Clerk Liz White as votes were being counted Tuesday night. “It was nice to see.”

In an email Monday, White said almost 1,700 registered municipal voters had cast their ballot by Friday, Nov. 1. By Monday, Moffat County Elections Coordinator Debbie Belleville had amended that number upward to 2,774. According to unofficial estimates obtained Tuesday night from elections personnel, by the end of election day Tuesday, a total of 2,550 of 5,833 municipal voters were approved to cast their ballots, making municipal voter turnout about 44%. By comparison, about 1,600 Craig residents cast their votes for mayor in April’s municipal election for City Council.

About an hour before polls closed Tuesday, dozens of voters could be seen dropping their ballots off outside while others waited patiently inside at the clerk’s office for more personal assistance using one of several voting machines. Several workers could be seen assisting voters with their machines and answering any questions voters had.

“I have the best election judges ever,” Belleville said Tuesday night.

Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Tammy Raschke agreed as votes were being counted Tuesday night.

“Our election judges have been great. They’re seasoned,” Raschke added.

Craig City Councilors reacted late Tuesday to the news city voters passed their recreational marijuana initiative.

“I really didn’t know how the vote would go,” said council member Andrea Camp late Tuesday, moments after unofficial results were announced.

“I’m surprised,” Camp said.

Councilman Steve Mazzuca said he’s glad voters ultimately decided the marijuana question in Craig.

“It’s nice to finally have a vote from the people,” Mazzuca said. “It sounds like a lot of people turned out to vote. We, as a City Council, could have just passed it like Hayden did. So it’s nice to have a vote from the people of Craig.”

Mazzuca said council’s next move will be to decide what the variable tax will be on recreational sales and who should get their hands on one of only three recreational sales licenses available under the city’s new ordinance.

“It sounds like people wanted the extra tax to go to the library and museum, so we should probably figure out what that tax is going to be,” Mazzuca said.

Though he wasn’t happy about any extra taxes, Councilman Paul James was celebrating Tuesday night when reached by phone.

“I’m not thrilled about the tax, but I’ll take it as a consolation prize,” James said.

James has dedicated the last several years to passing recreational marijuana in Craig — having tried and failed multiple times to gather enough signatures for a petition to legalize recreational sales.

“This has been six years of my life trying to get this through …” James said. “I made this as a campaign promise and it’s happened. I did everything I could within my power and everybody showed up to the ballot and actualized it.”

James said he wants residents to see a better future for Craig now that recreational marijuana sales in Craig are a reality.

“I just hope everyone involved sees prosperity in their future,” James said. “…It’s good for locals and I hope it’s good for the people who decide to invest in Craig.”

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