Officials: Pot and Snowmass not a good mix |

Officials: Pot and Snowmass not a good mix

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The Snowmass community doesn’t need recreational marijuana shops, the town’s marketing board told Town Council at a meeting Monday.

The council determined in a work session last week that it wasn’t ready to ban or to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana because most members were concerned about damaging the town’s family-friendly reputation. It agreed that its first point of research would be to ask the members of the Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales Board what their thoughts were.

The board consists of nine members, most representing a sector of the tourism industry. The eight members present at the March 17 meeting all said, for varying reasons, that they thought it unwise for Snowmass Village to offer pot for sale.

Several of the board members pointed out that if tourists want to buy pot, they can drive to the Aspen Business Center or to Aspen. Steve Santomo, general manager of a rental-property company, said some of his guests do ask and he points them to those locations.

“If they want it that badly … they go get it or find a way to get it.”
Steve Santomo
Member, Snowmass Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board

“We don’t need to have it,” Santomo said. “If they want it that badly, … they go get it or find a way to get it.”

Board member Scott Calliham said even as a bar owner he liked the idea of being a family-friendly resort.

“If we have one or two pot shops I think that begins to diminish that right away,” Calliham said.

“There’s far more downside risk than upside opportunities to approve,” said board member Howard Gross. “Frankly, I don’t understand why council hasn’t taken a stand on that.”

Mayor Bill Boineau told the board that the council was waiting to hear from them and that he also was concerned about listening to voters. 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.

“What better survey than people who live here,” Boineau said.

Gross responded by saying that although Colorado voted for Amendment 64, most towns are choosing to ban the sale of recreational pot in their municipalities.

“That’s the difference,” Gross said. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Yes we approve that law that passed, but we don’t want it in our community.”

Smoking in public

Much of the discussion also revolved around the need to enforce public smoking laws. It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public places, and many hotels have rules banning all smoking, but it’s still a problem, some board members say.

Board chairman John Borthwick said he’s been “cropdusted” by people smoking marijuana on chairlifts and on the Mall.

“Personally I think it’s time for a smoking ban of any substance,” said board chairman John Borthwick. “It is something that we really do need to get in front of.”

Santomo said most of the properties he manages are smoke-free, but the rule is hard to enforce. He also cautioned against an outright ban, saying that 40 to 50 percent of international guests smoke cigarettes.

“If we’re going to allow for smoking somewhere, then it needs to be under a controlled environment,” Borthwick said.

Calliham said he doesn’t allow smoking in his restaurants and that there is sometimes some “push back” from guests. Considering a total prohibition of smoking in town “would beg a lot of further examination.”

“I think the open use of marijuana has increased dramatically since (Amendment 64),” Calliham said. “I think that message could be reiterated publicly.”