Opponents of medical marijuana dispensaries breathed a collective sigh of relief as their victory was affirmed Wednesday, marking the end to the long, often tiresome campaign.
At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the final unofficial results were announced, declaring the supporters of Question 300 victorious by a 52 percent to 48 percent vote, much to the delight of Bob Powell, chairman of Concerned Fort Collins Citizens â€“â€“ the group that initiated the ban.
â€œSince the dispensaries came, the character of the city has changed,â€ Powell said. â€œThis means that we have done something.â€
Tuesdayâ€™s snowstorm halted ballot counting at 10 p.m. It resumed Wednesday morning, and results were announced throughout the day as the margin of victory narrowed from 8 percent to 4 percent.
â€œI am really, really pleased for Fort Collinsâ€™s citizens who are on the â€˜forâ€™ side because they knew of the tremendous uphill climb we were up against,â€ said Bob Powell, chairman of the Concerned Fort Collins Citizens.
The battle intensified in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 1 election as funds and support from other donor groups outside of Fort Collins rolled in opposing the ban.
Opponents raised about $125,000, some from unions and groups outside of Fort Collins.
Supporters of the ban spent just $14,000 and say they relied strictly on local support and volunteers.
â€œThe last week was hard,â€ Powell said, citing the funding imbalances and influence from outside sources, which he said shouldnâ€™t have been used in a Fort Collins election.
Steve Ackerman, owner of Organic Alternatives and long-time supporter of dispensaries, said the input of other groups is not unexpected for such a controversial issue that affects so many patients, employees and community members.
â€œLetâ€™s see how you react when someone assaults your business,â€ he said.
Ackerman went on to say the election shows a lot about the election process in Fort Collins â€“â€“ a college town where he said the young vote seemed absent this election.
â€œWe got a lot of people to turn out, but we just needed more,â€ Ackerman said. â€œYoung people need to know that if you donâ€™t vote, you canâ€™t complain about the results.â€
Ackerman said the next step for dispensary advocates is to educate people about marijuana use, but he said there are not yet any organized plans to fight the ban.
He said it isnâ€™t right that 20 businesses will be closed in 90 days, especially after following all of the regulations, fees, background checks and rules.
â€œLo and behold, we just got voted out of our business,â€ he said.
Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers
for the ban (52.02 percent)
against the ban (47.98 percent)