COLORADO: The Mountain Village Town Council on Thursday voted unanimously to place a moratorium on retail marijuana sales within the town.
The moratorium will last until Dec. 31 or until the council makes a firm decision on the issue. If council members decide to allow sales in Mountain Village, they will need to pass specific rules to govern how businesses are licensed and who can operate them. Due to the complex regulations and tax structure of retail marijuana, which is being set up by the state of Colorado, many on the council felt they needed more time to see what unfolds in the rest of the state.
“Frankly, we face a little less urgency because any retail businesses need to be current medicinal marijuana licensees, and we have none of those,” said Mayor Dan Jansen. “So the earliest anyone could open a retail marijuana operation in Mountain Village would be next July.”
Retail marijuana has been a popular topic for local governments over the past two weeks. On Sept. 11 the Norwood Town Board of Trustees banned marijuana sales, and this week both the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County passed their own retail marijuana regulations. Mountain Village appears to be somewhere in the middle. Most of the council seems to support retail sales, but with some limitations. Only one council member, Dave Schillaci, is fully against retail marijuana.
“I don’t think it belongs in Mountain Village,” Schillaci said. “I am pro-legalization. However, I personally think it needs to start at the federal level, not at the state level. And when tourists come, do they really want little Johnny and Susie to see that, and have to explain what it is? I don’t see it as a great inconvenience for people to have to drive 10 minutes to Telluride to get their marijuana.”
One issue facing the council, which could impact its eventual decision, is the fact that much of the town’s population is made up of second homeowners. Second homeowners were not allowed to vote on Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana for anyone over 21 in Colorado when it passed last November.
According to Town Attorney James Mahoney, the town should schedule a work session to discuss retail marijuana sales in October. After the work session, he advised, the first of two required readings of an ordinance should happen by November. If an ordinance to allow sales passes, the town could be ready to start hearing from people interested in starting a retail marijuana business by January. The earliest a new retail business could start is in July of 2014 due to state laws. Only current medical marijuana establishments can get retail sales licenses for the first six months after sales become legal on the state level in January.