Marijuana discussion a slow burner at Pitkin County commissioner’s meeting | AspenTimes.com

Marijuana discussion a slow burner at Pitkin County commissioner’s meeting

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Pitkin County commissioners continued their ongoing discussion on retail recreational marijuana rules and regulations Wednesday, with the hopes of having them in place before the end of the year.

County attorney John Ely took the commissioners through the proposed regulations, covering Articles 6 and 7 out of the 14 the board is considering.

The board's goal is to have all of the regulations in place before Jan. 1. Pitkin County has received two retail-recreational-marijuana applications that already have gained approval at the state level.

Article 6 covers the issuance of multiple recreational or medical marijuana licenses. Four types of marijuana licenses will be available: retail, cultivation facility, retail-marijuana manufacturing facility and retail-marijuana testing. Each license is needed for that type of activity and the granting of one license does not imply that activity, beyond the scope of each license can be conducted.

Individuals can own any combination of licenses if the board determines it is appropriate. If dual licenses exist for medical and recreational marijuana in the same location, then a separation of facilities is required. As it stands now, anyone can access a medical marijuana facility with the proper prescription. A person needs to be 21 years or older to access a retail recreational marijuana establishment.

The board also discussed whether cultivation and retail activities should be in the same location as well as where testing facilities would work best.

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Commissioner Rachel Richards pointed out that some dual licenses seemed a better match than others and that having test facilities near the cultivation areas probably makes more sense than having to ship marijuana to different areas, which could increase security risks.

Ely reiterated that any dual licensing would be looked at on a case-by-case situation by the board.

Article 7 covers licensing procedures and criteria. All initial license applications must be done publicly and in front of the board. All licenses will be for a one-year period. Renewal of licenses does not have to be done publicly.

There was discussion about capping the number of licenses awarded per year, but Commissioner George Newman said he thought that supply and demand would ultimately determine how many recreational retail licenses would be allowed in any given area.

The board also discussed a variety of external impacts potentially caused by retail recreational marijuana operations. Factors such as increases in traffic to a retail recreational outlet, the visibility of retail outlet, the number of employees and the physical characteristics of the property where the retail establishment is located were all discussed.

Ely said by keeping these factors for the board to consider leaves it with a broader scope for determining licensing.

The issue of caucuses and how much influence they would carry was talked about. Commissioner Michael Owsley said caucuses are good referral bodies, as they're familiar with their own neighborhoods, but he wasn't willing to give them any more discretion other than taking into consideration their recommendations. Ultimately, Owsley said, the final say has to rest with the commissioners.

The last parts of Article 7 asked whether a retail recreational marijuana establishment would be detrimental to community character and whether reasonable restrictions should be placed on a retail recreational establishment.

Owsley added that those provisions were huge and should encourage participation at local caucuses and neighborhoods.

The commissioners will schedule another work session to discuss Articles 8 through 14, possibly in early November. There is no public comment or questions during a work session.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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