Dillon on pot shops: No thanks
October 21, 2010
The Dillon Town Council will likely go for the “local option” to prohibit medical marijuana businesses within town limits.
The town currently has no medical marijuana, or MMJ, businesses within town limits and has a moratorium in place through the end of the year to prevent any medical marijuana businesses from submitting business applications. Rather than issue another moratorium, the council will likely vote on whether to excersize the public option for prohibition – as provided by House Bill 10-2184 – at a meeting in November.
Council does not necessarily see prohibition as being a permanent fixture in Dillon, but rather a means of putting the issue to rest in the short-term without having to constantly renew the moratoriums, which only last for 90 days at a time.
Town attorney Mark Shapiro advised council to “stay on the trailing edge” of the debate, as Dillon is in a unique position of having a “clean slate” – currently having no medical marijuana facilities within town limits. Prohibition would allow the town to watch the national and statewide debate about medical marijuana from the sidelines and make an informed decision after the issue has been resolved.
Councilmember Tim Westerberg said the issue would be more pressing if Dillon were an isolated community and council was denying citizens access to a necessary, medical drug. Because there are MMJ businesses in Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge, Dillon’s citizens still have easy access to medical marijuana, and if council decides at a later date to allow and regulate MMJ businesses, it can do so. If council were to allow MMJ businesses now and decide later to prohibit them, it could lead to a messy legal debate with established businesses.
“You can’t put the milk back in the cow,” Westerberg said.
Prohibition would only apply to MMJ businesses – not to medical caregivers, who are allowed five patients each and can operate from their homes. Police Chief Joe Wray said local authorities had not had significant issues with caregivers or MMJ within town limits.
Mayor Ron Holland and Councilmember Lucinda Burns were both in favor of regulating MMJ businesses and allowing them to operate, as both believe the debate is ultimately heading in that direction, and the tax benefit from the new businesses could be a boon for the city. The other five members were in favor of either extending the moratorium or enacting the local option.
The town’s only other option would be to lay out guidelines for MMJ regulation within town limits and put the matter to a vote of the citizens through a special election – an option supported in part by Councilmember Doug Roessel. According to Shapiro, this option would take at least 90 to 120 days to bring to fruition, and the current moratorium would expire before that time.
Council also hopes that by choosing the local option, it will receive more input from member of the community with respect to the direction the town should take on the matter.
Other Western Slope towns such as Avon, Vail and Grand Junction have already enacted the local option.
SDN reporter Drew Andersen can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or email@example.com.