Survey shows Snowmass’ view of pot shops in village, Town Council seeks marketing board take

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
A patron at an Aspen pot shop.
Anna Stonehouse/Snowmass Sun |

A simple majority of the Snowmass community feels that pot shops should be prohibited in the village, according to the results of the town’s recent marijuana survey.

The margin, however, is minor, with 53.6 percent of the questionnaire’s 500-plus respondents against the town allowing marijuana establishments in Snowmass.

Breaking down the results by respondents demographics — including resident type, voter registration and employment — “the majority opinion varies,” a memorandum from town spokesman Travis Elliot states.

At a work session Feb. 12, the Snowmass Town Council reviewed the results of the town’s three-question marijuana survey.

The questionnaire, which was open for public input Dec. 21 to Jan. 21, garnered a total 584 responses, of which 540 were deemed complete.

Part of the survey also allowed people to offer any thoughts as it relates to pot shops in Snowmass Village.

More than half of the respondents took advantage of this opportunity, with 311 comments ranging from “keep SMV family friendly” to “get the $$$.”

In more detail, many of the comments “revolved around the economics of the situation, competing with Aspen or protecting Snowmass’ family-friendly atmosphere,” Elliot said.

The survey also revealed that 55 percent of full-time Snowmass residents feel that marijuana establishments should be allowed, while 71 percent of part-time residents believe they should be prohibited.

Further, a younger (under 50) population strongly feel that pot shops should be allowed in Snowmass, while the 50-plus crowd firmly opposed them, according to the memo.

“There’s no middle ground here,” Town Councilman Bill Madsen said, noting peoples’ “passion” behind the issue.

As a town council, the elected officials’ individual stances also varied.

Of the four council members at the work session Feb. 12 (Tom Goode was absent), Mayor Markey Butler seemed most against the prospect of pot shops in Snowmass.

Butler cited the federal government, Snowmass’ family image and a soon-to-be complete Base Village development as her causes for concern.

“I’m not willing to take it on right now,” Butler said. “That’s my bottom line.”

The mayor proposed Snowmass take it to a vote and said she also would like to hear from the town’s marketing, group sales and special events advisory board.

Madsen, on the other hand, said, “I have a hard time when people want to take it off table altogether.”

He and Town Councilman Bob Sirkus brought up the issue of business “leakage” into Aspen.

By not offering a product that Aspen sells — and one that particularly interests out-of-state tourists — Sirkus said, “We are encouraging (people) to go to Aspen.”

Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said she is torn on the matter and stands somewhere in the middle.

“This is a family-friendly resort, and I would hate to see people not come here because of that,” Shenk said, adding shortly after, “I’m not where Markey is, but I’m not like, ‘Put a pot shop’” in Snowmass.

Of the various topics discussed at the work session, one everyone agreed with is to solicit Snowmass’ marketing board for a recommendation, which will be the town’s next step.

The town of Snowmass first implemented its moratorium on medical and recreational marijuana establishments in September 2013, after Colorado voters approved recreational pot sales in November 2012. The council voted unanimously one year ago to extend the moratorium, which is in effect until Oct. 31.

Elliot said Feb. 13 the town council would likely review the marketing board’s feedback and revisit the subject at work session in May.