Tim Klob believes the town he grew up in is throwing away an opportunity. So he put his time where his mouth is and helped gather 548 signatures in two weeks to put recreational marijuana and industrial hemp on the ballot this November in La Junta.
“I’m the poster boy locally for marijuana but in reality I see hemp as being able to change our local economy, I see hemp as bringing jobs to our local community,” Klob said.
Since Colorado and Washington are the only two states where industrial hemp is legal to grow, Klob says La Junta could put dozens of empty warehouses to work by becoming a leading hemp processing center for the surrounding agricultural communities.
“I see this as a game changer for our economy. There’s no other industry knocking on our door right now. Hemp is knocking on our door,” Klob said.
Last month, the La Junta city council enacted a ban on recreational marijuana. Klob hoped a vote by the people could open the door to hemp. Even though he collected more than a hundred extra signatures that were required by the city to place the issue on the ballot…it was rejected.
“A staple silenced 548 people,” Klob said.
Klob unknowingly violated Colorado law by not attaching each petition circulator's affidavit with the signatures they individually collected.
“When they were brought into me nothing was attached. Everything was loose leaf and I did not know who circulated what,” said Janice Schooley, the La Junta city clerk.
Klob went before the La Junta city council Tuesday to ask them to push for ballot initiative. The council ignored the request. Klob is back to square one.
“I think we’re grown up enough to decide the direction we want to take and it’s all about the right to vote,” Klob said.
Klob says he plans on circulating another petition to put the issue on a mail in ballot for a special election.
The city clerk estimates that special election could cost around 15-thousand dollars.