Snowmass can’t get off the pot
Ryan Summerlin March 15, 2014
The Snowmass Village Town Council isn’t ready to begin regulating recreational marijuana, but it isn’t totally banning it, either.
There was a mixed bag of feelings on the subject in a work session Wednesday, but the conclusion was that the council would like to extend the town’s moratorium on pot shops while more information is gathered on how the new industry is doing in other Colorado municipalities. The moratorium in Snowmass is set to expire July 1; to extend it, the council will have to have a public discussion and vote on an ordinance.
The first point of research will be in a joint meeting with the town Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales Board on Monday. Many of the council members voiced concern about recreational pot being detrimental for Snowmass’ image as a family-friendly resort and want the board’s input.
“That’s what we try to sell; that’s what we try to attract,” Kucker said. “I don’t think adding the sale of marijuana to this town adds to that image. In fact, I think it detracts very much from that.”
Mayor Bill Boineau said he agreed, but he added that the community voted in favor of recreational pot. In Pitkin County, 75.44 percent of residents voted in favor of Amendment 64, the statewide referendum that legalizes marijuana sales and consumption, in 2012.
“I lean on the side of this is a family resort, and that’s how we market ourselves, and I think that’s a very important image,” said Councilwoman Markey Butler. “I would prefer to protect our heritage and the vision of this town at this point versus going full steam to make an extra buck.”
Most Colorado towns are prohibiting the sale of marijuana in spite of Amendment 64’s passage, according to Town Attorney John Dresser. However, most resort towns are regulating it, he said.
Councilman Jason Haber said he didn’t think the council had enough information to give a clear direction to Town Manager Gary Suiter. However, he wanted to explore ways to regulate pot shops and keep them more discreet as well as analyze the potential revenue for the community.
“As far as the heritage, … don’t kid yourself — consumption has been going on since day one,” Haber said.
Butler said she didn’t think town employees will have time to do that level of research before the moratorium ends.
“I think we’ve got other issues that are extremely important,” Butler said. “I think we continue the moratorium … (and) perhaps revisit the issue with a new council.”
“That was the direction I was thinking, just saying, ‘No, not right now,’” Boineau said.
Dresser also pointed out that in the several years that medical marijuana shops have been legal under state law, no one has submitted to the town an application to open a dispensary.
Councilman Chris Jacobson, who also had said he wanted to protect Snowmass’ family image, said he didn’t see a problem with Haber’s request for more information.
Kucker said he didn’t support it, but if the council wasn’t ready to ban recreational pot shops, “all sorts of anecdotal evidence could become available to us” with added time, he said.
The council members wound up giving a mixed message to Suiter, but they all agreed that they wanted input from the marketing board. Councilwoman Markey Butler said that was the only research she was interested in at this point; Councilman Fred Kucker said if the board thinks recreational pot would detract from Snowmass’ marketing, that would “short circuit” the discussion for him.
The marketing board will be at the council’s regular meeting at 4 p.m. Monday in the council chambers.