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Marijuana petition is still being circulated

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The target date for placing a marijuana question on the April ballot has passed, but proponent Christi Prettyman plans to continue gathering signatures into the early part of next year.

Prettyman has 180 days to obtain a sufficient number of signatures from registered electors in the City of Delta. That means she can continue gathering signatures through Feb. 21. The petition seeks repeal of the ordinance prohibiting retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing and marijuana testing facilities within the City of Delta. The ordinance has been on the books since 2013.

State statute requires signatures from 5 percent of the city's 5,362 electors, which equals 268. City charter raises the bar to 804, or 15 percent. Prettyman said she's shooting for 1,000 signatures, to be on the safe side. After the city clerk has verified the signatures, and a protest period has elapsed, city council will review the petition. If council declines to remove the marijuana ordinance, a special election will be scheduled.

To be proactive, Delta Planning Commission and Delta City Council members have been reviewing proposals for the zoning and taxation of marijuana businesses.

If either the city council or the voters open the door to marijuana sales, the Delta Planning Commission recommends:

• Retail marijuana stores as a use by right in B-1 and B-2 zones.

• Retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana products manufacturing and retail marijuana testing facilities as a use by right in B-3 and industrial zones.

• Retail marijuana

cultivation facilities as a conditional use in A-1, B-1, B-2, B-3 and industrial zones.

The petition that's being circulated specifies hours of operation for retail marijuana establishments -- 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

In addition, no retail marijuana establishments will be allowed within 1,000 feet of any existing public or private school where classes are held for grades K-12. State law restricts legal sales to adults 21 and older.

The final decision on zoning rests with the city council, but voter approval is required to levy taxes on marijuana sales.

Discussion has been centered around a Colorado Municipal League summary of marijuana actions in every municipality in the state. According to CML, about 76 percent of the municipalities in the state prohibit the sale of marijuana.

In municipalities where sales have been approved either by council action or through voter approval, sales, excise or transaction occupation taxes are employed as methods of collecting revenue from marijuana.

Glen Black, community development director for the City of Delta, said the city attorney has recommended an additional 2 percent sales tax, to flow into the city's general fund. That would bring the total sales tax to 5 percent, which is the same as the excise tax.

In addition, the state collects its regular sales tax of 2.9 percent, plus a 15 percent special sales tax. A portion of the state sales tax would be allocated to the city. Another piece of the pie is carved out for education.

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