For the North Fork Valley, it appears that one municipality will be allowing commercial marijuana sales and operations, and that is Paonia. Usually a motion is made if something is to be done, but in this case the Paonia Town Council in a four to one trustee vote decided to do nothing in regard to banning or regulating retail sales. So the statutory town will be under state law for retail businesses.
As for Crawford, the trustees on June 5 voted to ban any commercial marijuana operations. (See article in June 12 DCI).
The Town of Hotchkiss now has a draft ordinance banning retail sales as well, which will come before an August vote by the board of trustees. (See article in this DCI)
At the July 9 Paonia Town Council meeting, Mayor Neal Schwieterman said plans to allow the citizens of the town to vote in a ballot election can't be done until 2014. So the mayor explained that the matter had therefore come to the council to decide.
Jim Briscoe, town attorney, gave a summary of the council's options. The two major choices were to ban or regulate retail operations. Briscoe said a number on council had indicated they preferred to have the citizens vote since the voting down of retail medical marijuana sales was so close, just 16 votes. "In the meantime, since we can't have an election until November 2014, the state is in control of issuing licenses. They will begin issuing licenses on Jan. 1. If the town has no regulations in place and has no moratoriums on retail marijuana businesses in town, then the state will potentially authorize people to conduct that type of business in town," Briscoe said. "It will be strictly handled under state regulations."
Trustee Eric Goold asked if the town will make any money from the tax and sales? Briscoe said only from state sales tax.
Jere Lowe, a marijuana consultant, said the Town of Paonia would have to sign off on any business.
Briscoe responded, "We would have to name a person for [the Department of Revenue] to contact."
During the time when the town considered commercial medical marijuana businesses, the council instituted a moratorium. When that expired, two businesses opened on Grand Avenue. Then the citizens voted for a ban. The two businesses closed.
Trustee Eric Goold said while not having an election until 2014 had changed his thoughts on the issue, he felt in the interim the council should do nothing.
Trustee Larry Wissbeck favored not doing anything as well.
The state will be able to write and re-write the regulations. Because of that, trustee Brian Ayres was for a moratorium to let the voters decide, and the rest of the council was for doing nothing until the 2014 election.
It was pointed out by Goold that the council could vote for a moratorium later if they chose, but it would limit the town's options.
The public shared their views. Suzanne Watson said, "I think by doing nothing you are essentially taking a stand." She wanted the council to completely review the state laws before the town allowed any shops. The state will have their regulations by September 2013.
Another woman said she was speaking on behalf of some 80-year-olds who bought salve to help them sleep, but if not available in a retail store they will have to do without.
Brent Helleckson said with the town's $2.5 million surplus, the town doesn't need to make a decision quickly. Even though the state has made recreational marijuana legal, it is still illegal on the federal level. He believes there is little to be lost if a moratorium is in place.
Bob Pennetta said the state excise tax on recreational marijuana will benefit schools and education. He asked if the town was opting out of those funds.
Jere Lowe stated, "You have no reason to chase red meat away from the town. You are simply going to send tax revenue over the hill to the Roaring Fork Valley or down to Montrose if you were to put a moratorium on this."
Lowe pointed out that there is a thriving marijuana market all over the state. This is not 2009, he said, when Paonia voters banned marijuana. In the last election, in Precinct 19 the Paonia voters at 64.5 percent approved recreational marijuana as a constitutional amendment. "The tide has changed since 2009. There's no point in having another election."
The council voted to do nothing at this time, which will allow retail operations to open per state regulations. The town could institute a moratorium later, or establish its own regulations later, or still have a ballot question in November 2014 and let the citizens decide.blog comments powered by Disqus