Hotchkiss To Weigh Easing Marijuana Ban

Hotchkiss, in Delta County between Delta and Paonia, is facing up to the demise of coal mining as its main employer, and rethinking its ban on marijuana businesses, the New York Times reports. Fearing its social impacts, the town's leaders twice voted to keep pot out of town after Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.

But, as Times journalist Jack Healy reports, unemployment in Delta County is higher than the statewide average of 3.2 percent. Its residents look at Colorado's 2015 $1 billion in marijuana sales revenue, and the roughly $135 million reaped in state taxes and fees, and see an opportunity. A vote on the matter comes next month.

That kind of calculation also prompted the struggling Mesa County town of DeBeque to turn to marijuana -- a move so financially successful, town administrator Lance Stewart told Colorado Matters earlier this year that taxes on marijuana sales brought in more money than the town sees in overall sales tax and energy impact fees combined.

From the Times report on Hotchkiss:

“If we could get it legalized right now, we could create some jobs, and we need the tax revenue,” said Thomas Wills, a town trustee who runs a used-book store and supports allowing some marijuana stores. “Downtown’s not going to be all flashing green crosses and dancing marijuana leaves. You can make it as unobtrusive as you want.”