City to discuss retail marijuana tonight

10-month moratorium sunsets next month

Municipal leaders have allotted 25 minutes during a workshop session tonight to discuss licensing of retail marijuana within the City of Cortez.

On April 28, The Cortez Journal sent a 10-question survey to all seven members of the new city council. Question 6 asked each council member to describe individual concerns about implementing local regulations on retail marijuana sales, whether they each were in favor of allowing recreational marijuana sales within the city as well as their individual suggestions on how to spend additional tax revenues generated from retail marijuana sales.

None of the council members replied, but Mayor Karen Sheek did issue a statement on May 5.

“As the city council makes decisions as a body, we have elected to discuss the questions you submitted during our next work session,” she stated.

Sheek also advised last week that individual council members could respond to the entire questionnaire, but only after the group had made their collective decisions.

After a public hearing in August, in which no one spoke for or against a city moratorium to ban recreational marijuana, the previous city council voted unanimously to prohibit any new medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries inside city limits through the end of June 2014.

At that time, City Attorney Mike Green said he was “uncomfortable” to legalize local marijuana sales, because the state had yet to adopt all the guidelines and regulations necessary in implementing a voter-approved mandate to reform marijuana prohibition laws.

Colorado became the first state to authorize and regulate recreational marijuana sales, which started on Jan. 1.

In addition to retail marijuana, The Journal survey, in part, also requested city leaders to define freedom of information and list three action items each would introduce to guarantee the peoples’ right to know; define the city’s top three needs and the steps each would take to address those concerns; whether the city actively overcharges or undercharges its water customers as alleged by the Cortez Sanitation District; whether they support the Dolores River Valley plan and what impacts it might have on the city; and to list the top three hurdles to spur economic development and create more jobs in the area and what plans each would put forward to address the issue.

According to tonight’s workshop agenda, only the retail marijuana issue is scheduled for discussion.

Last month’s city council election was canceled when enough candidates did not qualify.

The new city council consists of Sheek, Mayor Pro-Tem Ty Keel, Shawna McLaughlin, Bob Archibeque, Tom Butler, Orly Lucero and Jim Price.

Each are compensated $400 a month for their civic service.