Snowmass doesn’t need pot, board says |

Snowmass doesn’t need pot, board says

The Snowmass Village marketing board on March 17 told the Town Council that it doesn’t think the community needs recreational marijuana shops.

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. The elected officials concluded that they would vote on an ordinance extending the town’s temporary ban while gathering information, starting with input from the Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board.

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.

“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 it and that he was also 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.’”

Three council members have said that the marketing board’s stance would heavily influence theirs on recreational pot. It is unclear whether the council will move forward with extending the temporary ban or change course based on March 17’s discussion.

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,” Borthwick said. “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.

Calliham said he doesn’t allow smoking in his restaurants and that there is sometimes some “pushback” 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.”

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