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May 18, 2014
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Basalt aims to end moratorium on retail pot shops, Snowmass looks at extension

The only two Roaring Fork Valley towns that currently don’t allow recreational pot shops to operate appear to be headed in different directions.

The Basalt Town Council voted, 6-0, on May 13 to approve areas where recreational marijuana sales shops will be allowed. They kept the same boundaries as they approved earlier in the year for medical marijuana facilities. Midland Avenue and areas around schools and parks are off limits.

Basalt staff is working on recommendations for recreational pot shop licensing requirements. The council is expected to take action on those rules at its next two meetings. The goal is to get rules in place and let a moratorium on recreational pot shops expire as scheduled on June 25.

Meanwhile, the town of Snowmass Village staff is recommending an extension of recreational marijuana establishments until March 15, 2017. The current moratorium is scheduled to expire July 1 of this year.

Some officials believe approving recreational pot shops will interfere with Snowmass Village’s efforts to brand itself as a family-friendly resort.

In addition, some staff members question if the administration of the next president will be as lenient with Colorado’s marijuana laws as the Obama administration.

The council is scheduled to vote on a proposed ordinance to extend the moratorium today. “Staff recommends that Town Council extend the moratorium prohibiting retail marijuana establishments in (Town of Snowmass Village) to March 15, 2017, in order to analyze and determine a course forward with input from the community,” the staff recommendation said. “The date of March 15, 2017, is suggested as a time frame for knowing just how the federal government under a new administration will proceed with individual state’s legalizing MJ.”

Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs allow recreational marijuana stores.

In Basalt, the council must still hash out details on licensing provisions for recreational pot shops. They will debate whether or not to limit the licenses for recreational shops to two. The council also will determine if public hearings should be required as part of the review for recreational pot shop licenses, as they are with liquor licenses.

The council will discuss whether or not to allow grow operations and edible product manufacturing and marijuana testing facilities. The staff is pressing for approval of recreational stores only.

The council at its May 13 meeting briefly debated the pros and cons of limiting the number of shops. Councilman Herschel Ross argued against limiting the licenses to two.

“I don’t think we should set up regulations that in any way favor big business,” he said. If there are too many pot shops, the market will weed out the weakest, Ross said.

Councilman Bernie Grauer countered that limiting the number of pot shops makes it easier to regulate pot. “My concern is possible leakage to juveniles,” he said.

While Basalt town government’s goal is to have regulations in place by June 24, Grauer said he doesn’t want to rush it.

“I still want us to take plenty of time and extend the moratorium if we feel we need one,” Grauer said.

“The date of March 15, 2017 is suggested as a time frame for knowing just how the federal government under a new administration will proceed with individual state’s legalizing (marijuana).”
Snowmass Village staff memo

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The Aspen Times Updated May 18, 2014 09:12PM Published May 18, 2014 09:12PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.