The Basalt Town Council took emergency action Tuesday night to guard the town against receiving a flood of applications for medical marijuana dispensaries.
The council approved a 90-day moratorium on new pot dispensaries to buy time for its planning staff to work on regulations governing such facilities. A dispensary already was approved for the WIN Health Institute, an alternative health care cooperative on Valley Road. That dispensary was expected to open this week and will not be affected by the council's action.
The council also approved first readings of two ordinances which dictate where dispensaries can open and rules of operation. Planning director Susan Philp said the ordinances were crafted quickly, so she requested the moratorium to provide time for additional research and possible refinements. The ordinances will be finalized in a second reading at a later date.
One major component of the rules are that the pot dispensaries must be located at or near medical facilities.
Councilman Chris Seldin stressed that the council was not endorsing medical marijuana dispensaries or addressing the use of pot by voting on the proposed ordinances. "We are not entering into the debate about the legality of marijuana or its use whatsoever," he said.
As an attorney who is sworn to uphold the law, Seldin abstained from voting on the moratorium and the ordinances. The moratorium and draft ordinances were approved 5-0 by the council, with Councilwoman Amy Capron absent.