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For the first time, Kiowa residents will have a say in whether or not marijuana-related businesses can operate within town limits. Any kind of marijuana-related business within the town has been illegal since at least 2013, when the board of trustees declared “that such land uses have an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of the Town and the inhabitants thereof.”

More than 5% of registered voters banded together this year and presented a petition to town officials to include the issue on the November ballot, which, if approved, would result in the repealing of the ban.

Maria Morales, town administrator for Kiowa, said the issue has been presented many times over the years, but has never been approved by trustees to be allowed on the ballot.

“The board has not been supportive of it, but more than 5% of registered voters in Kiowa wrote a letter and presented it to the board as something they wanted to do,” said Morales. “With a petition that followed our home rule charter, the board didn’t have a right to say no.”

The petition, said Morales, included research that showed “in small, rural communities, once marijuana was legalized it turned the economic status of the town.”

According to Morales, the insistence of getting the issue on the ballot isn’t only driven by those who want to bring marijuana businesses to Kiowa, but also by those in the community who oppose it, and feel it’s their right to have a choice to vote.

In addition to deciding whether to repeal the town ordinance, voters will also be able to choose whether or not to charge a special sales tax of not more than 12% on the sales of marijuana products, should the existing ordinance be repealed and marijuana businesses be allowed in the town. Money from the special sales tax would be used for town paid personnel, including police; expansion, construction and maintenance of town facilities; and other purposes determined by the board of trustees.

“We wanted to be prepared in case the repeal was passed,” said Morales. “We wanted to address both issues at the same time and ask if people would be OK with imposing a special tax.”

Kiowa is home to about 746 residents.

To read the language of the current prohibitions on marijuana establishments, use the search function to find the word “marijuana” on the website for Kiowa’s code of ordinances at https://library.municode.com/co/kiowa.

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