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Every now and then, a news report surfaces about one more rural community trying something new to drum up business. Tourism is down, energy development flat, and small towns are stretching to find new ways for their town’s to bulk up their budgets. The latest to come to light is the town of Ophir, an old mining town in the southwestern section of Colorado, located in the high country between two other old mining towns, Telluride and Rico.
The town residents will cast their votes Oct. 20, to decide if the townspeople want to become Colorado’s first municipality to grow medical marijuana. The population of Ophir is very small and there has been no mention if many of the residents qualify for the service. Watching their second home-filled hillsides empty out during the economic downturn and their annual town budget slashed in half, the supposedly laid back, liberal, populace is being asked to figure out a way for the town to survive.
In years past, marijuana crop growers in the high country could only look forward to being discovered by local law enforcement officials and surrendering their plants before their full growth. More than two decades ago, our own law enforcement agencies were informed of a local greenhouse pot grower, who was tending his plants in the upper Flag Creek region. He never reached the point of sale. No one knows what legitimizing previously illegal crops will look like throughout the state yet.
Cash-strapped people all over the state are trying to figure out a way to work from home, so the idea of opening a local cannabis commissary is more appealing than it seems. Towns all over our state are reporting that it may have become as popular as the at-home businesses that are ever popular-selling kitchen gadgets, jewelry, or make-up. Searching for a surefire, viable solution to filling municipal coffers, Ophir’s town officials realized a vacant greenhouse conveniently located next to town hall could lend itself to growing a marijuana crop to help out the local folks who are turning to using the plant for medicinal purposes.
Decisions, decisions … elections involving local issues put life in each small town in a brand new light. And we thought an election to decide what to do with the old elementary school was controversial.