Pitkin County poised to move forward with retail marijuana regulations | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County poised to move forward with retail marijuana regulations

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Editor's note: The following article has been corrected from its original version due to a reporting error.

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners is expected to approve part of an ordinance today that will establish the licensing procedure and criteria for retail marijuana as well as designating the county official/department that will be responsible for processing applications.

At a work session on Tuesday, the commissioners listened to County Attorney John Ely's recommendations for moving forward by initially accepting just two articles from the ordinance.

By accepting those two articles, the commissioners will set up a clear path for licensing referrals from the state to Pitkin County as well as allow the county to receive half the application fees.

Current medical marijuana outlets will need to pay a fee of $500 to apply for retail status. A new application from a non-medical provider will need to pay an application fee of $5,000.

It also gives the commissioners until Jan. 2 to work on the rest of the regulations within the ordinance.

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"This would give the board some flexibility going forward," Ely said. "It will also make communication with the state a lot smoother."

As it stands now, even if the state grants a retail marijuana license, the license isn't good until a local authority also approves it.

The state schedule for implementing regulations begins Oct. 1, when medical marijuana outlets can apply to convert from medical to retail sales. After 45 days, the state must decide to grant or deny that permit.

From Jan. 2 to June 30, anyone can file a "notice of intent" to apply for a retail marijuana license, which will also put them on a waiting list. As of July 1, 2014, anyone can apply with the state for a retail marijuana license.

Commissioners Michael Owsley, Rob Ittner and Steve Child all stated during the session that they saw no problems approving the two articles Ely recommended passing as long as it gives the board time to examine and work on the rest of the regulations.

Commissioner Rachel Richards also was leaning toward approval of the two articles as long as the board makes a commitment to work extra sessions to ensure that all the ordinance issues get addressed.

Several other options were suggested at the meeting. One was to ask for a temporary ban on new recreational marijuana licensing applications. That still would allow medical marijuana outlets to move forward into the retail side of sales and operate in the valley while giving more time and consideration to new applications.

Richards said she wasn't inclined to support a temporary ban as it would be difficult to judge impacts if there were none, noting that a ban would "leave a lot of potential individuals who are interested in this, business owners who are interested in this, landlords and land that could be leased are interested in this, and it seems like an unnecessary delay, I'm not sure to what end …"

Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill was at the work session and said her department would work as the county retail marijuana licensing authority.

"The retail marijuana licensing does parallel the liquor license process," Vos Caudill said. "That's a process I think we can handle."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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