When the nation heads for the polls Tuesday, the presidential election won’t be the only issue on ballots. Senate and gubernatorial races will be on some, and legalization of marijuana will be on the ballot in 10 states.
California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, and Massachussets are all pushing for legal recreational use of marijuana, while Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida want to legalize the plant for medicinal use.
Colorado is the exception. In 2012, the state legalized recreational pot. It’s not a statewide referendum, but a local issue affecting the city and county of Pueblo, 100 miles south of Denver. Voters will decide whether to reverse the law allowing the production and use of marijuana.
Ryan Kinnison was raised on a farm in eastern Nebraska, and now he grows 36 acres of marijuana at Los Suenos Farms in Pueblo County. The farm is believed to be the largest legal field in the country.
With an expected yield of 5 to 6 tons, security is a major part of the operations. There are 289 cameras to track anyone entering the field, badge access, and everyone needs to sign in or out.
In the county, 180 recreational marijuana businesses, including dispensaries and cultivation facilities, are threatened by the proposed referendum. Pueblo County could be the first to change its mind about legalizing recreational marijuana.
Charlene Graham leads the group that put Proposition 200 on the ballot, saying legal marijuana has drawn more homelessness to the area, putting a strain on local resources, including hospitals.
“The amount of money coming in matches the amount that’s going out,” said Graham.
Bob DeGabrielle, the owner of Los Suenos Farms says the legal industry employs hundreds of people and pumps millions of dollars into the economy.
“They want to take away our rights to lease property to people who are growing marijuana,” said DeGabrielle.
In Pueblo County, there are 48,000 Democrats, 28,000 Republicans, and 37,000 that don’t claim either party.