Recreational marijuana sales may be put on hold
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Council could wait on state to take lead

The Colorado constitutional amendment that passed last fall and essentially legalizes commercial grow operations and the sale of recreational marijuana in the state is set to go into effect this summer.


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The state legislature is debating specific regulations and the town of Crested Butte is waiting to see how best to regulate marijuana within the town borders. The council is considering a short-term moratorium to give them some breathing room to gather more information about the issue and deal with all the ramifications of legal weed in a resort town.
In a presentation Monday night to the Town Council from town attorney John Belkin, the council agreed about a half dozen topics need to be addressed. Aside from the possible moratorium, things like a town tax on the herb, zoning to appropriately locate retail spaces, whether or not to allow “smoking dens,” whether to allow cultivation in town, and whether the voters should play a new role in the decisions are all being considered.
Belkin explained the state has set in a motion a series of timelines and recommendations. The legislature must issue regulations by July 1. By October 1, the state must begin accepting and processing license applications. Belkin said it appears that current medical marijuana facilities will be given a head start if they want to convert to recreational sales. The state must begin actually issuing licenses by January 1 of next year.
“These regulations will be significant,” said Belkin. “This is an adult law.”
He told the council the state is considering imposing significant taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana. “If the town adds another big tax, it could reach, say, 40 or 45 percent and the problem then is that everything would revert back to the black market,” he said. “And need I remind you that this is still a violation of federal law.”
Belkin said the town could impose a quick moratorium while the council works out details of retail marijuana issues. He said the moratorium could be in place in just a number of months. “The goal wouldn’t be to stop Amendment 64…”
“But rather to implement it in a fashion we want once the state is done working on its regulations,” finished Mayor Aaron Huckstep.
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“There are a lot of things to consider, like where you want recreational shops,” added interim town manager Bob Gillie. “Do you want to keep it where the medical facilities are or let it expand? You may want to set aside time for public comment on that.”
The town allows five medical marijuana licenses in town but only three are currently active.
Councilperson Jim Schmidt said he believed an important issue is allowing the grow facilities to be in or near town. “I’d rather have it here than in Mexico,” he said. “It keeps the money and control here and doesn’t add to drug dealers killing people in Mexico.”
Ultimately, the council opted to consider a short moratorium on recreational retail marijuana shops while the town council gets its cards in order. No date has been set for the consideration of such a move but it expected to be discussed at a meeting in April.