The Pueblo West View

Board OKs water to grow pot

Grower at meeting pleased with action

Marijuana growers in Pueblo County will have another option for water, after the Pueblo Board of Water Works OK’d selling outside of the city to grow pot.

The vote was 3-1, with board members Nick Gradisar, Tom Autobee and Jim Gardner in favor. Kevin McCarthy voted against. President Mike Cafasso did not vote.

“It’s business as usual,” Gradisar said. “We have some customers who want this use. It’s a good policy to move forward.”

The policy is premature, McCarthy said.

“I realize we had an obligation to provide water within the city,” McCarthy said, referring to the water board’s decision in June to allow some of its treated water to be used within city limits. “We don’t have an obligation in the county.”

The water board could face challenges because of the policy, he added.

“This is premature. We should wait. I think we need to pump the brakes,” McCarthy said.

A grower who attended the meeting expressed his appreciation.

“Now we have different options,” said Shawn Honaker, of Yeti Farms in western Pueblo County. “We’ve been trying for three weeks to purchase water legally.”

Honaker has two medical marijuana dispensaries and plans to open a recreational marijuana store in the fall.

The new policy has a clause that does not allow sales to growers who could otherwise obtain water through other providers such as Pueblo West Metropolitan District or the St. Charles Mesa Water District.

It also caps water sales for marijuana at 800 acre-feet (260 million gallons) to assure that no federally connected water is used to grow marijuana.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Pueblo Dam and other features of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, has adopted a policy against providing water for marijuana, which is legal in Colorado, but still a federal crime.

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The Pueblo West View