Council members weigh in on marijuana issue

In April, the Cortez Journal asked each city council member a three-part question regarding the city’s prohibition on recreational marijuana sales. Only two municipal leaders responded independently.

Council members were asked to address their individual concerns about implementing retail marijuana sales, whether they supported the measure and how they would appropriate additional tax revenues generated from commercial marijuana sales.

In public office since April, Council Member Jim Price said he favored allowing retail marijuana sales, citing the community could benefit if the voter-approved commodity was adequately regulated and taxed.

“Stringent, but fair regulations need to be implemented for sales of retail marijuana,” said Price. “We can learn lessons from other Colorado communities that have allowed it.”

In his second term, Council Member Tom Butler said his personal opinions should not have any bearing, and the controversial issue would best be resolved by action of the city council as a whole.

“I have come to the conclusion that it should be put on a ballot, and let the people decide if they do or do not want recreational marijuana by the democratic process of voting,” said Butler.

Both Price and Butler said any revenues from commercial marijuana sales should be appropriated based on city policy.

In a joint statement issued by Mayor Karen Sheek on behalf of other city council members, none of the Journal questions were specifically addressed. Instead, a vague collective reply was offered. (The following is the complete statement in its entirety).

“City Council placed a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales to give the state some time to get its ducks in a row on this issue,” Sheek penned. “When the issue of medical marijuana came up a few years back, it was decided that it would be best to allow closely regulated shops as opposed to opening the door to an unregulated underground business. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in our state, our community needs to have a conversation about whether to allow recreational marijuana sales here.”

tbaker@cortezjournal.com