As the Denver Post reports, the Lakewood City Council voted 7-4 on Monday to ask voters to decide on whether to allow retail marijuana stores…even though voters have already made their voice clear on this issue:
In a room packed with opponents of any retail marijuana operations, Ward 1 Councilwoman Ramey Johnson warned that marijuana is a $1 billion a year industry and the "gates of hell will open" with outside money influencing Lakewood voters on the November ballot question.
Lakewood voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession and allowed for retail sales, 60-40 in 2012…[Pols emphasis]
…Mayor Bob Murphy said he voted "no" on Amendment 64.
He supported the November ballot question and said it would answer once and for all the will of the voters: Were they voting strictly for recreational use with no desire for retail stores? Or were they saying "yes" to both?
"All we're doing is asking voters, and that's democracy," Murphy said. "And in my opinion, that's what we were elected to do. I think it's our duty to clarify the issue with voters."
Monday's discussion by the Lakewood City Council reminds us of using a credit/debit card to buy groceries or other items; how many times do you need to answer "Are You Sure?" before you can sign the receipt and be on your way?
Obviously there is a generational gap related to this discussion in Lakewood — witness Ramey Johnson's ridiculous hand-wringing about "industry" lobbyists — but it's disingenuous for the city council to punt on an issue that they are elected to make decisions about. Whether or not you agree with Amendment 64, the issue has already been decided by voters and should not be going to the ballot again. Lakewood's City Council should be working on implementing Amendment 64, not on asking voters if they were really, really, really sure that they want recreational marijuana sales in Lakewood. With respect to Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy, putting questions on the ballot is absolutely not the primary job of the city council, nor should it be. Putting this issue on the ballot in November is a waste of time and money; if the vote comes back largely in favor of recreational marijuana, which is likely, then this entire exercise will have been pointless.
This non-decision is particularly absurd when you consider that nearby cities such as Denver, Wheat Ridge, Mountain View, and Edgewater are already moving forward with retail marijuana operations. To whatever extent there may be a negative impact on the community from recreational marijuana sales, restricting it from Lakewood is not going to keep it out of Lakewood. The only thing that Lakewood would not receive is tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales; residents of Lakewood who want to buy marijuana will just drive a few more miles and then bring their purchase back home.
There are certainly plenty of people who disagree with the idea of legalizing marijuana, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The Lakewood City Council should be working on implementing the law instead of asking the same questions again and again.