Basalt aims to end marijuana sales moratoriums
The majority of the Basalt Town Council members indicated Tuesday night that they want to end separate moratoriums on medical and recreational marijuana as quickly as possible.
The board directed its staff to come back in December with updated proposed regulations on sales of medical marijuana. The goal is to have the regulations in place within 30 to 60 days and rescind a moratorium on medical pot shops, which is in place until October.
The council also voted to extend a moratorium on retail pot shops, grow facilities and manufacturing businesses for edibles for another six months. That moratorium was scheduled to expire on Dec. 27. However, the council indicated its goal is to get regulations on recreational pot sales in place and rescind that moratorium, as well.
Town Manager Mike Scanlon proposed extending the moratorium on sales of recreational pot for two years to give time for state laws to be sorted out. Recreational sales will be allowed, on a limited basis, starting in January.
Medical marijuana law in Colorado “is fairly settled,” Scanlon said. “Recreational (law) isn’t.”
But the council majority indicated it wants town staff to prepare regulations on recreational sales operations as quickly as possible.
“What are we waiting for?” Mayor Jacque Whitsitt asked. “I don’t want to do a year or two-year moratorium” if there isn’t a good reason, she added.
Councilwoman Karin Teague concurred. She said it would feel like the town government was delaying making its mind up about the issue if it passed a two-year moratorium. She suggested a six-month moratorium on recreational sales operations.
“If we come back in six months and say it’s still a frickin’ mess, we extend it,” Teague said.
Councilman Glenn Rappaport said he supports ending the moratorium on medical marijuana establishments and having the council work with the staff on regulations on recreational marijuana sales establishments.
The council didn’t vote or discuss at length whether it would ask town voters in November 2014 if they supported allowing recreational sales of marijuana. However, Scanlon advised against holding an election. Support on the council for an election appeared to be waning. Rappaport said he favored writing the regulations without going to another vote.
A moratorium has been in place on medical marijuana establishments in Basalt for 37 of the past 48 months, according to Scanlon. The town approved a moratorium on medical marijuana shops after Colorado allowed its sale. Then the town came up with regulations that allowed medical marijuana shops to open only in facilities that provide medical services, and the moratorium was temporarily ended but then resurrected.
“I would call that the Carbondale effect,” said Scanlon, who took the helm as town manager in October 2012 after the town approved the medical marijuana moratoriums. The town re-enacted the moratorium after Carbondale was inundated with applications for medical marijuana shops, he noted.
Scanlon said there is no longer a need for the moratorium on medical marijuana shops. He advised the board to allow him and other staff members to refine existing town regulations on medical marijuana sales and bring them back for the first round of approval on Dec. 10. If all goes as planned, the moratorium on medical marijuana shops could be lifted in 30 to 60 days, he said.
Scanlon said his research indicates Basalt is the only town in Colorado with a moratorium on medical marijuana sales establishments. Other towns and cities have either prohibited the businesses or approved them.
He outlined a proposal to limit the number of medical pot shops in the town to two. Suggested hours of operation will be 9 or 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday. The shops wouldn’t be allowed in school corridors or in a buffer zone around parks and day care centers. They essentially would be allowed only in the town’s industrial zone, he said.
Scanlon said he understood that the council wants the staff to start working on regulations on recreational marijuana sales as quickly as possible.
“From what I’m hearing, it’s not two years — it’s months,” he said.
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Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.