Aspen wants to limit pot advertising | AspenTimes.com

Aspen wants to limit pot advertising

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

City officials are following state guidelines by recommending limitations on marijuana advertising so that pot commercials don't reach younger eyes and ears.

If recommendations are followed, radio, television, print and online ads will be allowed only if the marijuana business has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience is expected to be younger than 21. That's according to a memo to the Aspen City Council, which will review the recommendations during the public hearing portion of today's regular meeting.

Advertisers also would be prohibited from targeting out-of-state audiences as well as claiming on its products that marijuana is safe. Sign regulations would be similar to local laws governing liquor stores, according to the memo. Outdoor advertising — including billboards, signs mounted on vehicles, hand-held or portable signs, or leaflets, handbills or fliers — also would be forbidden.

Among other recommendations are a limit on the number of recreational retailers in town for the first year as well as prohibition of private or public smoke clubs. To be eligible for conversion to recreational marijuana retail, an applicant must have filed an application for a medical marijuana license with the state by Oct. 1. Submissions outside those criteria can be made on or after July 1, but licenses would not be effective until Oct. 1, 2014. As for pot clubs, the city staff has recommended the "conservative approach," citing ambiguity in state laws regarding open and public consumption.

"Because (private or public marijuana clubs) are not specifically authorized, they are not legal," the memo states.

At a Sept. 23 meeting, Councilman Adam Frisch expressed interest in allowing cafe-style venues, without the presence of alcohol, where people could purchase and consume marijuana. Community Development Director Chris Bendon stated that the staff's stance is to let another city test the law's limit, adding that Aspen should "avoid anything that will stir up federal interest."

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ALSO ON THE AGENDA

The council also will review he St. Regis Aspen Resort's request to close during portions of upcoming offseasons. According to the memo, the St. Regis is the only hotel in Aspen with a stipulation in its agreement with the city that requires it to remain open year-round. Citing low occupancy rates, lost wages for employees and maintenance needs, the 179-room hotel has requested two- to four-week closures during the spring and fall of 2014.

The council also is expected to approve an $82,000 upgrade to the sound and visual system at City Hall. The audio system would be replaced with new speakers and ceiling-mounted microphones for council members. An 80-inch television screen would replace the facility's projection setup, with an additional 55-inch television screen for the audience. The total contract cost is $68,109 for Audio Visual Experts, $7,000 for the televisions and $6,890 for contingency, bringing the total to $82,000. Cable-franchise revenue would provide $25,000, and city clerk's savings would provide another $25,000. The remaining $32,000 would come from the general fund.

herk@aspentimes.com