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Vader Council unfazed after latest hearing on marijuana ban

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Members of the Vader City Council have stuck to their guns when responding to criticisms against a potential ban barring marijuana businesses during follow-up to a related hearing at their most recent meeting.

When discussing the Feb. 12 hearing during their Feb. 26 meeting, council members stated, after considering what members of the public had to say regarding the matter, they remain unconvinced that marijuana production, processing and retail facilities would pose no harm to their community, and produced copies of specific articles upholding their perspective.

"Since somebody didn't like my comments, I decided to bring it in writing," said Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Flynn, who was leading the meeting in the absence of Mayor Ken Smith, stating he had printed off and left copies at City Hall of articles in which the effects of legalized marijuana in Colorado have been found to be detrimental both to communities and the state as a whole. (The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, published August, 2014, by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and Colorado's New Attorney General: Pot Legalization 'Not Worth It', printed Feb. 25 by US News & World Report.)

Though Flynn and others had mentioned such articles during the hearing, they were unable at that time to produce them while members of the public, and those involved in potential marijuana developments, challenged the information being shared and referenced other reports they said illustrated legalized marijuana would have no harmful effects on Vader.

"The basic impact I was getting from all the reports I read: crime is up, grades are down in schools, car accidents are up, home fires are up from people cooking pot in their houses," said Flynn Feb. 26, stating, in spite of generating greater revenue from the marijuana business, Colorado stands to lose part of that revenue through legal suits brought against them by neighboring states claiming the pot industry is facilitating the illegal smuggling of marijuana across their borders.

"It's a two-sided coin," he continued. "The City of Vader sees no benefit. That's my personal opinion."

Other officials echoed Flynn's concerns that allowing marijuana businesses in town would not result in a net gain to the community.

"My main focus is really the safety of the kids," said Council Member Justin Olson, "the safety to the community, to families, and I'm not seeing any benefit of increased safety."

Olson went on to state he does not believe allowing marijuana business will improve Vader's access to law enforcement and educational services, adding, "I don't see it helping the teachers teach, I don't see it helping the kids...safety-wise, I don't see it."

At the end of discussions, the council approved a finding of facts, which detailed their responses to the hearing and is available to view at City Hall. Such approval concludes the steps necessary to extend for a second time a six-month zoning ban against medical and recreational marijuana businesses, which the city originally passed Jan. 23, 2014.

The council is expected to consider approval of a permanent ban sometime this spring, after a land use study is completed later this month followed by a hearing of the Planning Commission before they forward their official recommendation to the council.

According to the most recent reports from the State Liquor Control Board, five businesses have applications pending to establish marijuana production facilities within Vader's urban growth area, with two of those five also applying for a processing license, while a sixth business wishes to establish a retail marijuana facility, all of which would be affected by a potential ban from the council.

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