Igadi seeking legal action over Grand County Marijuana Ballot Initiatives


by Tara Walker
Grand County Ballot issue 1A is the cause of controversy as Igadi’s general Counsel David Michel explained during the October 23 BOCC meeting that he will be seeking legal action to invalidate the ballot initiatives as they are based on inaccurate calculations and are misleading the voters.
David Michel explained that he was informing the Board of county commissioners in order to give them time to research and that he would rather be collaborative rather than adversarial in their approach to litigate.
Igadi is marijuana dispensary with an all-in-one cannabis production facility and distillery, a wholesale distributor, and a 21-and-over shop with its headquarters located in Tabernash. Igadi advertises that it’s facility in Tabernash showcases the largest observable marijuana grow in the world.
Ballot issue 1A requests voters to approve a 5% marijuana retail tax, or $310,000 the first fiscal year, to be used for general fund and the roads and bridges fund. Ballot issue 1B requests voters approve a 5% market rate excise tax on the first sale of unprocessed marijuana, $155,000 for the first fiscal year.

Michel accused Grand County Finance Director Curtis Lange of miscalculating the taxes used in the ballot, “Mr. Lang performed a miscalculation when calculating taxes, and while maybe not necessarily intentional, was based on ignorance.”

He explained that the sales tax number was determined by using the Fraser store’s taxes and that the 4.2 million was county-wide not unincorporated county and therefore formed a poor basis. Michel argued that higher sales taxes will cause more people to purchase from other jurisdictions like Denver.

Using the 5 minutes provided to him by Commissioner Linke, Michels quickly put forth his concerns, “The commissioners direct the ballot and have a duty to do a fiscal analysis per the constitution for calendar year 2019 and have a duty not to mislead voters. Because you relied on inaccurate calculations from staff, it is misleading and if challenged would result in it being invalidated.”
Michel explained that if they had dealt with this two weeks ago, they would have been within 25 days and it could have been cancelled on the ballot, but now the ballot needs to go forward. Michel said, “When it goes forward, we will challenge this, but as litigants we can take an adversarial or collaborative approach. In a collaborative approach, we can look at this. If you agree with what I am saying and you understand that staff misinformed you and that industry wasn’t here to counter. Instead of doubling down on a mistake and zealously advocating for a tax that was a miscalculated and thereby misinforming voters, we can talk and figure out some sort of stipulation that can be acceptable between the county and people within the industry. We can avoid litigation hearings and a lot of problems and time.”

Igadi general counsel Michel insisted that he does not want to make this adversarial and that he feels this is necessary at this time, “This is my analysis and if I am wrong, I am, but I don’t believe so. Mr. Franek and I can sit down because I have a 10-day window after election or can possibly do it injunctively beforehand, but I need to figure out what I am going to do and whether it will be adversarial or collaborative.”

Commissioners thanked Michel and said they couldn’t make decisions at this time and that he was free to meet with Grand County attorney Robert Franek after the meeting, but that they were out of time and had to meet with elected official