Public could sway decision on pot

City to weigh marijuana regulations tonight

A public hearing is scheduled tonight for an anticipated ordinance that would regulate retail marijuana businesses in Cortez.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. City Manager Shane Hale encouraged supporters and opponents to voice their opinions at the hearing.

“I know the city council really wants to make their decision based on what is best for the community,” said Hale. “They are weighing their decision heavily on the folks that they hear from. So, testimony at the public hearings would likely shape the ultimate outcome.”

Earlier this month, the city council voted to accept draft Ordinance No. 1192, Series 2014. If approved, the 18-page law would offer three classes of state licenses within city limits: retail marijuana store, retail marijuana cultivation facility and retail marijuana testing facility.

The law would prohibit retail marijuana dispensaries from manufacturing marijuana-infused products, such as brownies or lotions. Retail dispensaries could sale marijuana infused products manufactured by outside wholesalers under the proposed law.

A Cortez moratorium on recreational marijuana remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2014. Four medical marijuana dispensaries are currently licensed by the city.

Across the state, 90 towns have prohibited commercial marijuana businesses. Forty have adopted ordinances to regulate the industry, and 21 have moratoriums.

Under Colorado law, residents over the age of 21 can possess, use, display, gift or transport up to one ounce of marijuana as well as cultivate up to six marijuana plants.

The black market price for marijuana sold in Cortez is about $50 for a quarter ounce. One retail shop in Telluride, the nearest town to legalize retail sales, offers the same quantity for $55.