Even though recreational marijuana has been available in Aspen for more than five months, many hotel and condominium owners are still confused on where visitors can smoke pot.
That was one of several concerns brought up Tuesday at the Limelight Hotel as the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Valley Medical Council put on a panel discussion to examine issues and concerns members of the hospitality industry have involving the inception of recreational marijuana into the Aspen community.
The four-person panel included Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, city of Aspen Assistant City Attorney Debbie Quinn, Silverpeak Apothecary owner Jordan Lewis and Aspen Chamber Director of Services Erik Klanderud.
DiSalvo said the more healthy discussions the public has about marijuana use, the better.
“We need to get past the fear and paranoia,” DiSalvo said. “Communication is vital if we want to introduce marijuana safely and responsibly within our community. We don’t have to use it, but we have to accept it.”
DiSalvo spoke of the importance of lowering adolescent use of pot, using caution with edible marijuana products and having the option to dispose of any unused marijuana at the amnesty box located at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.
“We don’t want to encourage people to throw marijuana products into a garbage can,” DiSalvo said. “We don’t want the product tossed somewhere where others can get it.”
One hotel manager asked where visitors were supposed to smoke pot in Aspen if it’s not allowed to be consumed in a public place.
“That’s a tough one,” Quinn said. “Most hotels don’t allow smoking, but a hotel room isn’t considered public. That’s a hotel policy issue.”
There was some confusion concerning whether someone could rent a room from a hotel for an event where pot would be smoked. Attorney Lauren Maytin said she believes if a room is rented for a private party at a hotel and the hotel isn’t controlling the party, then the hotel isn’t legally responsible for people smoking.
“Aspen is complaint-driven,” Maytin said. “If no one complains about the private party, (Aspen) won’t come looking for you unless you advertise.”
One condominium owner was concerned about people smoking in her units and suggested that Aspen needs someone to provide a space where visitors can smoke.
“We’re very aware of that issue,” Quinn said. “The Aspen City Council talked about the marijuana-club issue, and we’re willing to discuss the issue, but we’re not ready to go in that direction yet.”
Several hotel representatives expressed worries about dealing with people who consume too much marijuana and wondered how many people have been ticketed for excessive consumption.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said that in general, there have been few complaints about smoking pot publicly.
“We haven’t written any tickets for public consumption since the (recreational) law was put into place,” Pryor said.
DiSalvo said there’s only been one arrest in Pitkin County on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.