Council considers final approval of medical marijuana ordinance

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On the agenda

- Consideration of an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Steamboat

- First reading of the 2010 city budget ordinance

- Second and final reading of an ordinance approving a lease between the city and New West Inns for management of the Iron Horse Inn

- Second reading of twin ordinances approving leases between the city and Greyhound Lines for the use of transit centers in Steamboat and Craig

- An amended community housing plan for Steamboat Barn Village

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

If Steamboat Springs City Council approves a new medical marijuana ordinance tonight, it effectively will formalize collection of the city's 4.5 percent tax on marijuana sales.

Staff Attorney Dan Foote confirmed Monday it is the city's intent to collect tax on sales at medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city.

"On a legal level, we've reached the consensus that it's taxable," Foote said.

The city code specifies that prescription drugs prescribed by a physician or pharmacist are not subject to city sales tax. However, city officials are interpreting the state constitution as classifying a doctor's validation of an individual's need for medical marijuana as something other than a prescription.

Doctors provide medical marijuana patients with written certification for the use of medical marijuana, and patients are required to obtain an ID card from the state.

"You get a card that allows you to buy it, but it's not something that is prescribed," Interim City Finance Director Bob Litzau said. "Since marijuana is not a prescription (drug) it's taxable."

Mark Couch, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said his agency concurs with the city's interpretation.

"In our view, yes, medical marijuana is subject to sales tax," Couch said. "We're waiting for confirmation from the state's attorney general."

Litzau said the city would not break out the amount of taxes collected by medical marijuana dispensaries here in its monthly sales tax reports. That is in keeping with the city's policy of not revealing statistics that could be used to derive the revenues of individual businesses.

City Council will consider the second reading of the ordinance near the end of tonight's meeting, which is not expected to run beyond 7:30 p.m. The language of the ordinance includes some changes from the original draft that was approved Oct. 20.

At the direction of council members, Foote removed language from the ordinance that would have prohibited the dispensaries from using the term marijuana or its synonyms, or depictions of the plant, in its advertising. However, the same prohibitions remain in place for signs erected by the owners of the dispensaries.

The final draft of the ordinance also opens the possibility of permitting a third marijuana dispensary in the city - where two dispensaries already are operating - if it is organized as a cooperative.

The new language redefines the definition of medical marijuana to include growing or otherwise manufacturing marijuana, Foote said. The implication is that if an unrelated party was growing marijuana specifically to provide product to one of the licensed dispensaries, the grower would not be operating within the provisions of the ordinance.

Finally, the ordinance authorizes the City Council to appoint a hearings officer to rule on alleged license violations by the dispensaries.

Although City Council would not rule on violations that could result in revocation of a permit, Foote said, it will continue to hear the required annual applications for renewal of the dispensary permits.

Comments

mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

I can't wait to see the annual numbers on the amount of revenue that is brought in by just the 4.5% sales tax on medical marijuana. At least they didn't ban the word "marijuana" or it's synonyms and depictions of the plant from advertising. I wonder if the council would have a problem with a dispensary that would want to use a 4' analog clock, permanently stuck at 4:20, as their storefront signage.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 1 month ago

Am I mistaken, or was this to be a non-profit business?

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

If I am correct, you're indeed mistaken. Two of the dispensaries opened up as for-profit businesses. The other, if I'm not mistaken, is a non-profit co-operative.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

Here is an interesting wrinkle to consider when it comes to collecting sales tax. Below is an excerpt from a Vail Daily article that appeared on October 6th.

"As to the question of whether medical marijuana dispensaries may be taxed, the answer is no - and yes. Frankly, it's unclear. While prescription drugs are exempt from state sales tax, marijuana is considered, at least by some, to be an herbal supplement - like echinacea, for instance.

While medical marijuana is obtained via a prescription, what its taxability teeters on is, apparently, whether it is a "drug" or simply a "supplement." But if it's a "supplement," why would a doctor's prescription be required? If, instead, medical marijuana may properly be considered an herbal supplement rather than a "drug," then it should not be exempt and, instead, should be subject to sales tax. State regulations define a prescription as "any order in writing dated and signed by a practitioner... specifying the name and address of the person for whom a medicine, drug or poison is to be offered, and directions, if any, to be placed on the label." Medical marijuana, however - at least for now - is not available at your neighborhood pharmacy. Instead, under Colorado's medical marijuana laws, it is available to be grown or from an authorized "care giver," under which category medical marijuana dispensaries exist. But, state regulations also state, "any time a question exists as to whether a sale is taxable or exempt, the law requires that the vendor charge the sales tax and the purchaser pay the tax." Sheesh!"

Oh if only the world were simple.

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

It just goes to show exactly why the prohibition of marijuana has been upheld for so long. The thing that's been taking the government so long to figure out is exactly how to get their cut from such a "highly" demanded substance(sorry for the pun there).

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freerider 5 years, 1 month ago

If you take a drive I'll tax the street , if you take a walk I'll tax your feet ... if you take a hit I'll tax your need , even if your sick , I'll tax your weed ....cuz I'm the taxman ....yeah I'm the taxman

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

So, either nothing happened in the city's decision about the ordinance last night or the Pilot just thought that it wasn't worth publishing with the rest of the news this morning.

Hey, at least Breck made it legal. By a frickin' landslide I might add.

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

For those that would like to read the news about Breckenridge, published by an actual news paper, here's the link:

Breckenridge Votes Overwhelmingly To Legalize Marijuana

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/04/breckenridge-votes-overwh_n_344815.html

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freerider 5 years, 1 month ago

Breckinridge is symbolic as the first dominoe to fall ....this is going to be like watching an Avalance once it gets going ... I'm happy to see the USA moving out of the dark ages on medicine...remember when the AMA had chiropractors put in jail , when the world was flat , when the Sun revolved around the Earth , when the bill of rights meant something , when we had a constitution ....the people have spoken , the vote was a frekin landslide ... this also gives me hope that we can take our country back from corporate rule...Anybody happen to notice that the white house has become headquarters for corporate America ??

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aichempty 5 years, 1 month ago

geez, you guys are really smoking some good stuff . . .

Breckenridge cannot make marijuana legal under federal law. Colorado medical marijuana isn't even legal under federal law --- they just decided not to prosecute state-licensed users. The next administration could change that as quickly as Obama authorized stem cell research. All it takes is the revocation of an Executive Order. Piece of cake.

The only thing Breckenridge will do by attempting to legalize pot is to attract DEA agents who will scoop up the traffickers attempting to operate "lawfully."

Back in the 1860s a number of states attempted to get around federal laws by leaving the Union. That was not successful either.

Let's just say that a smart person would not drive down there and attempt to use pot openly. I'm sure that it won't stop any of you, however.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 1 month ago

free and mmj - You actually believe that this is good publicity for Colorado? It proves that Colorado is OK with the dopers. Fairly sad state of mind in my opinion.

Lastly, please stop referring to marijuana as medicine. That phrase might ease your own mind, but catching a buzz as the number 1 agenda is not medicine.

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freerider 5 years, 1 month ago

Dukey and head aich .... we live in free country .. this is good news ...it was a landslide vote . Hello the key word here is vote. That should even tell you people that have your heads buried in the sand what's going on in this country ... I happen to be a fan of the bill of rights and the constitution and I support living in a free country where we have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and most importantly the right to vote. Marijuana was made illegal to protect corporate profits..period..I've read the marijuana tax act of 1937.. If I want to catch a buzz then that's my choice not yours to tell me what to do...maybe you should move to North Korea if you don't like living in a free country .. If you want to wipe your backside with the bill of rights and the constitution and the American flag and the right to vote then go on supporting your fascist fear mongering position on this issue. This is also the first step in getting rid of drug dealers and ending the farce know as the drug war. Holland has half the drug abuse as the USA and all drugs are legal there. By keeping drugs illegal all we are doing is financing organizations like the Taliban and terrorists . How do you think they pay for there weapons ?? The only people that are against legalization are scared little sheep or they are making a fortune off it....grow up

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

Duke- Take your out-dated, propaganda borne ideology and spin it to someone else that's dumb-enough to be dooped by it. Just because your views of marijuana include Satan passing smoldering blunts to toddlers on playgrounds, doesn't mean that you're living in the real world. The medicinal properties of marijuana have been proven and documented by multiple studies. Your ignorance of those studies, or unwillingness to accept their findings, does not nullify their validity. So until there are an overwhelming number of studies that disprove the thousands of years of world history that have proven the efficacy of marijuana, I'm going to be hard pressed to accept any of your lies. The only thing that this voter decision proves is that over 70% of the people that live there are under the impression that the current federal laws are ridiculous and actually detrimental to our progress as a nation. The FACT that marijuana is safer than alcohol is a hard thing for many to accept. However, the numbers speak for themselves. The only thing that you prohibitionists have in your debate ammo stockpiles is an old, moldy mess of half-truths that everyone else sees for what they are. You're scared of change and that's okay. It's normal. There were plenty of people that were terrified when they repealed the prohibition on alcohol. But I bet you wouldn't be among their ranks, huh?

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

And aich....I don't know about anyone else, but I don't need to go anywhere to enjoy my medicine. That's one of the benefits of having a card issued to me by my state government that says it's okay for me to medicate with-in Colorado. I don't know what you guys are all bent up about anyway. You're gonna be floored when you see just how much tax revenue is going to be generated by the dispensaries in our valley. You seem to be missing one of the main economic points of the entire debate. Freerider is absolutely right; the funds that could be taken out of the black-market, and the subsequent affect on drug dealers, would be almost incalculable. Why are you and Dukey so opposed to taking money and power away from drug dealers?

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Dumpy_the_Wise 5 years, 1 month ago

Sorry Duke and Aich, but your whole self-important, good for the world, one-size-fits-all policy doesn't work with this day and age, let alone logic.

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh yeah, and how did you come up with the idea to compare re-legalizing marijuana with states that tried to leave the union in the 1860's? There are already 14 states with medical marijuana laws on the books and another 14 that are currently deciding on the matter. If all 14 of those states enact some sort of medical marijuana law, that'll be more than a majority of the states. Even with the current number of medical marijuana states, that'd be one jacked up looking map considering their geography. I thought that the states that wanted to succeed were located in the South. It seems as though the idea of RE-legalizing marijuana is a bit more wide-spread than the idea of leaving the union of our country over slavery.

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mmjPatient22 5 years ago

Over a month and still nothing aich or dumpy??

If you guys don't stand up for the prohibitionists, who will?

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