Northern Colorado seems to have a beef with the state’s medical marijuana laws. Dispensaries have been banned in Loveland, Greeley, Windsor, and Longmont. The last haven for many patients in the area has been Fort Collins, but there’s a chance that may change before long. According to Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods, a petition is being circulated around Fort Collins to ban medical marijuana centers in town.

The petition, aiming to bring a ballot initiative to vote, would ban care centers, but would not explicitly ban medical marijuana. This would force patients to either rely on illegal sales or find new dispensaries elsewhere. And for those in Loveland, Greeley, and other neighboring towns where dispensaries are already banned, losing Fort Collins as a source for medicine is a definite problem. Many patients in those towns rely on Fort Collins dispensaries for their medical pot. Take away dispensaries there, too, and you put thousands of patients in a bad spot.

The suffering doesn’t stop with patients, of course. Over 200 jobs would be lost if this initiative were to pass. Not only would current dispensaries have to close, but planned care centers would be forced to fold. Tax revenue from dispensaries would disappear. And let’s not forget how dispensaries help stunt the growth of illegal drug sales. Forcing medical marijuana patients to turn to the black market would prevent many from getting the care they need. Illegal drug trade creates higher prices on cannabis and introduces serious risks to buyers. In addition to the obvious risks of buying pot illegally–such as higher risk of arrests and a lack of protection from violence–there’s a higher chance that the green you’re picking up is contaminated.

Patients deserve safe, local access to medical marijuana. Physicians recommend it for a reason, and making it less accessible only hurts communities. Banning care centers in no way helps anyone except those who still oppose medical marijuana and patients’ rights. Voters in Larimer County must take action, either by voting down the initiative this November, or by spreading the word and doing their part to beat the petition drive and keep it off the ballot altogether.

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