In the weeds: Snowmass council discusses pot shops in village | AspenTimes.com

In the weeds: Snowmass council discusses pot shops in village

Erica Robbie | Snowmass Sun

DENVER, CO – April 25, 2016: A selection of indica and sativa cannabis flowers on sale at Denver Relief. The recreational and medical marijuana shop purports to be the first in the city, and the first on the “Green Mile.”

If Snowmass joins its neighbors and allows the marijuana business to operate in the village, the Town Council on Monday inched closer to deciding what that might look like.

Four of the five Town Council members (Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk was absent) at a work session seemed to agree that if the town was to OK pot shops there would need to be a limit.

The Snowmass Town Council is in its early stages of learning about the plant, the industry and whether it belongs in the village.

The town first implemented its moratorium on medical and retail marijuana establishments in September 2013, after Colorado voters approved recreational pot sales in November 2012. The council in late February voted unanimously to extend the moratorium, which is in effect until Oct. 31, 2018.

The council at that time said it would need further education on the drug, business and laws before it could reach any informed decisions.

As part of the council's "education series," as Mayor Markey Butler called it, Town Attorney John Dresser opened the discussion Monday outlining eight options for business licenses, half of which involve retail marijuana and the other half medical.

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For both retail and medical marijuana, there is a license related to the manufacturing, cultivating and testing of the drug — which seemed to interest the council less — as well as a license regarding sales.

Valley Marijuana Council member and dispensary owner Dan Sullivan attended the work session. He owns four dispensaries — two medical and two recreational — from Glenwood Springs to Parachute under the "Green Joint" brand.

"From a demographics perspective, out-of-staters, whether you like it or not, cannabis is a driver for tourists," said Sullivan, pointing to the economic benefits of allowing the business.

The council revisited this notion a couple of times; at one point, Councilman Bob Sirkus said, "Snowmass, being the suburb of Aspen, I see this as a potential to reduce leakage to Aspen."

He said it is "an opportunity for our guests to get something from here" that they would otherwise need to visit Aspen to acquire.

"That essentially becomes leakage that we're trying to capture," Sirkus said.

Mayor Butler posed the question of communal values.

"Is it money that we want to put first?" she asked. "Or the values of the community?"

Sirkus said it is not about money but rather the "economic vitality" of the village.

Butler said the town needs public feedback, and the council agreed. The mayor said she also would like to learn about what other mountain resorts are doing in terms of permitting marijuana in their municipalities.

Town staff agreed to present that information at the council's next discussion; the date is to be determined.

For more on this story, check this week's Snowmass Sun, on newsstands and online Wednesday.

erobbie@aspentimes.com

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