Board approves pot shop regulations

Trustees agree on licensing, keeping shop books open

The town board took a big step on June 11 toward allowing the sale of recreational marijuana by approving recreational marijuana shop regulations.

The regulations govern the licensing of the shops and employees, inspection requirements and other details of operation, including the allowed hours. The board of trustees is now the retail marijuana local licensing authority under the new local law.

The regulations were revised after months of discussion and several times before the vote. Most recently, sections were added to make it clear that any recreational shop must keep its books and inventory open to inspection at any time. This part of the new regulations mirrors state law.

The local regulations now state that the books must show business transactions for the current tax year and three prior tax years.

The revisions also made it clear the town has the ability to fine recreational marijuana shops as well as to suspend or revoke licenses.

A lone local resident, Don Loweree, spoke against permitting the sale of recreational marijuana before the vote. He said he thinks it has the potential to increase its availability to teenagers even though recreational marijuana can only be legally sold to people over 21.

"I've watched kids in grammar school and middle school start taking dope just so they can be somebody," he said.

His said he's concerned that it will turn into an addiction for those young people.

A majority of the board has continuously voiced support for legalizing the sale of marijuana to help the town generate revenue. After a townwide vote in April, the board has the authority to levy a flat transaction fee up to $10.

Trustee Michele Black was the only dissenting vote on the board. She said she knew before she voted that the regulations would likely pass, but she wanted to be the voice for people in town who disagree with the sale of marijuana.

"I wanted to be voice for people like Mr. Loweree," Black said.

She said that she doesn't have a moral problem with marijuana, but there are still a number of outstanding issues including spotty state government oversight and the fact it is still federally illegal.

The town's moratorium on recreational marijuana expires June 30. But the town must still pass a revision to the land-use code before anyone could begin the application process for a recreational marijuana shop. A vote on the land-use code is expected in mid-July.

A part-owner in Beacon Wellness, the medical marijuana shop in town, said he was pleased with the regulations and researching what was best for the community.

"Overall I think they did a great job," Fete said.

He said that Beacon Wellness does plan to but in an application to open a recreational marijuana shop in Mancos when all the regulations are in place.

Officials in Cortez recently extended the city's moratorium on the sale of recreational marijuana through Dec. 31. Dolores officials have discussed a similar extension.