Council discusses new legal pot law

Concerns center on students

Keywords: Poll question,

The Cortez City Council Tuesday night in a workshop were briefed on the new law that makes possession and usage of small amounts of marijuana legal in the state of Colorado.

While the city must follow state law, the council could prohibit the selling of the drug in specialty retail shops, which would not take place until late 2013.

The council also talked about the impacts legalization would have on students in the local school district.

Most council members either work or once worked for the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1.

Council member Bob Archibeque asked about the possible ripple effects this approved amendment would have on the schools and the students, especially because marijuana would become more accessible for children.

Mayor Dan Porter, a principal at two area elementary schools, said when medical marijuana became law a few years ago, pot usage among the children in the schools increased by about 33 percent.

City Attorney Michael Green, who gave the council a quick overview of Amendment 64 on Tuesday night, said there will always be some kids who will steal their parents' marijuana.

The new law prohibits anyone under 21 from using or possessing marijuana.

Green said the new law allows residents to cultivate up to six plants, which he said equals close to one pound, which could compound the problem with the drug becoming more accessible for students.

Council members agreed that marijuana usage would probably increase substantially because of the accessibility.

Council member Matt Keefauver, a teacher at Cortez Middle School, said children have always stolen prescription drugs and alcohol from their parents and marijuana will likely add another layer to the problem.

"Yeah, we are going to see an increase, and that is not something we can control," he said.

City Manager Shane Hale and Green both said the legalization of pot is not something they or any other municipality can change, but are allowed to prohibit it if this is what the council chooses.

Ty Keel, another teacher, said there are too many unanswered questions right now.

Superintendent Alex Carter, who was at the regularly scheduled school board meeting Tuesday night, said that the passage of Amendment 64 is very likely to present many additional challenges to the schools.

"The challenges presented by the passage of Amendment 64 will likely lead to increased availability of marijuana and thus may lead to increased incidents of student controlled substance violations," he said in an email Wednesday morning. "Also, I am concerned about student health and welfare and the likelihood of increased availability of marijuana."