Lamar City Council Holds Special Meeting on Proposed Ordinance



Lamar Mayor Kirk Crespin, offered an emotion-filled statement regarding the recent passing of councilmember Oscar Riley during the outset of the council’s September 7th special session.  Riley passed away earlier in the day.  A single yellow rose was placed at his vacant chair.  Crespin praised Riley for his contributions to the city as well as his years-long involvement with the Lamar Elks and in service to his community beyond his capacity as a city councilman.

For business during the evening meeting, the revised language of a proposed ordinance for the November 8th, 2022 election was discussed.  The first reading of the ordinance was approved on a split vote by the council during its August 22nd meeting, but questions were raised by some council members over the broad-based language of the ordinance which seeks to amend the city charter through the election, prohibiting various forms of sale, manufacturing and cultivation of marijuana to persons over 21 years of age.

As presented on first reading,  Ord. No. 1256 – reads,  “An Ordinance providing for the submission of a ballot question to the registered electors in the November 8, 2022 Coordinated Election at which time a Question Shall be placed on the Ballot Concerning the Prohibition and Penalization of Marijuana Establishments, Cultivation, Manufacturing or test facilities, retail and/or wholesale marijuana stores and prohibit or penalize any person that has possession , uses, displays, purchases, transports, transfers, stores, warehouses, cultivates, sells or distributes marijuana or marijuana accessories to any other person or entity more than one ounce of Marijuana or to any other person under the age of Twenty-One”

Councilmembers, Riley and Bellomy cast votes against the ordinance in August, but the council vote wasn’t an endorsement of the proposal, but merely to allow the question to be put before the voters during the November General Election.  If approved, the action will amend Lamar’s City Charter.

The newly approved ballot question reads, “Shall the City Charter of the City of Lamar be amended to include a new Section XV for purposes of prohibiting and penalizing within the Lamar City Limits the issuance of a business license to and for the operation of any marijuana establishments, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, and retail or wholesale marijuana stores; and prohibiting and penalizing any person or entity that possesses, displays, purchases, transports, transfers, stores, warehouses, cultivates, sells or distributes to another, more than one ounce of marijuana for personal use; and prohibiting and penalizing any person under the age of twenty-one who possesses, use, displays, purchases, transports, transfers, stores, warehouses, cultivates, or sells or distributes to another, any amount of marijuana or any marijuana accessories; and prohibiting and penalizing any person or entity that openly and in a public place uses for any purposes, consumes ingests, displays, possesses, transfers, distributes or sells marijuana to another?”

The council had a split vote with councilman Bellomy voting against its adoption.

The special meeting was called as the council is up against the clock on this matter.  The finalized wording needed to be approved and forwarded to the Prowers County Clerk and Recorder for review by Friday, September 9th to make the ballot for voters.  A required second reading and passage of the ordinance is necessary for that to happen.

Darla Scranton Specht, attorney for the ballot petitioners, briefly addressed the council, stating that the group she represented was, in general, satisfied with the ballot wording.

Mayor Crespin reiterated that the approved vote was not an endorsement of the ordinance by the city or the council, but merely allowed the question to be decided by the voters this November.

The ordinance did not specify what constitutes marijuana ‘accessories’ in its wording.  There is the possibility that should the question fail in November, the door remains open to another attempt for passage in another election. The City Charter determines how much time must lapse before another attempt could be made.  By the same token, if the question passes, another group could make a future petition attempt to rescind the amendment on a ballot, also based on the doctrines of the Lamar City Charter.
By Russ Baldwin

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