Pitkin Commissioners Start Tackling Pot Decisions

Sep 10, 2013

Colorado is the first state to finalize the details on how to regulate recreational marijuana. The rules came out Monday, September 9th.  Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the Pitkin County Commission is taking some early steps for figuring out how to work out recreational… or so-called “retail”... marijuana. They met yesterday, Tuesday September 10th, to explore what comes first.

Reporter: There’s a kind of dance going on across Colorado right now. Counties are figuring out whether it’s ok for locals to grow, sell, and purchase pot… even though voters statewide approved that last fall. Under the terms of Amendment 64, local governments have the option to ban retail marijuana. Garfield and Eagle counties have done that in certain areas already. Now, the Pitkin County Commissioners are tackling a very early phase of that question. George Newman was one of five leaders who met Tuesday. He put this idea on the table.

George Newman: “And that is to ask for a temporary ban on retail marijuana. And the reason for that is we are going into new territory here. The state is and certainly all the local governments. And no one knows how this is going to work and what all the impacts are going to be on the local communities.”

Reporter: Newman voices the most caution against approving pot beyond medical use in unincorporated parts of Pitkin County. He points out that more than one group of citizens within the county has recommended against it. Commissioner Steve Child, on the other hand, says he feels the county should figure out how to make it work.

Steve Child: “Given that seventy five percent of Pitkin County voters voted for Amendment 64, I’m in favor of moving forward with approving this ordinance."

Reporter: Especially since, according to Pitkin County Attorney John Ely, commissioners can always issue emergency orders if something goes terribly wrong. For her part, Commissioner Rachel Richards is optimistic that allowing retail marijuana could work well… as long as commissioners and others are willing to spend extra time this fall figuring out how exactly that would work at the upper end of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rachel Richards: “Guess I’m wondering is there a third way on the course the Board takes, in looking to say the existing medical marijuana facilities can become retail recreational outlets as well. And use that as a test case going forward, as to whether or not we’d like to issue additional licenses in the future.”

Reporter: The Board of Commissioners today looks at which county official would be the first stop for applying for a license to grow or sell retail marijuana. So far that would be Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill. On Tuesday she said her office could handle that additional workload.