Steamboat Springs Colorado’s booming medical marijuana industry is presenting regulatory challenges at the state and municipal levels, and Steamboat Springs is no exception.
Steamboat Springs City Council gave initial direction last week as to how city staff should revise the city’s medical marijuana regulations in order to comply with state laws adopted this year. City Council’s wide-ranging discussion of the issue included how to address licensing for manufacturers of marijuana-infused products and for off-premises cultivation, whether to change the city’s current limit of three licenses, and more.
City staff attorney Dan Foote said a proposed, revised ordinance could be presented to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in December or, more likely, January. The revised ordinance then would go before City Council for public review and adoption.
City Council made two primary votes last week about what those revisions should include.
First, City Council voted, 6-1, to remove Steamboat’s requirement that one of the city’s three licensed medical marijuana businesses be a co-operative model. The vote supported changing the co-operative model to a for-profit business, largely in response to the state’s House Bill 1284.
“To operate as a nonprofit co-op has become very difficult with the new law,” said JJ Southard, operations supervisor for the co-operative Natural Choice in Steamboat.
Councilman Scott Myller opposed that vote.
Second, City Council voted, 5-2, to allow three infused-product manufacturing licenses in the city, for the creation of products that can range from baked goods to tinctures. Foote said those licenses likely could be attached to existing medical marijuana centers.
Council members Jon Quinn and Kenny Reisman opposed that vote for very different reasons.
Throughout last week’s conversation, Quinn supported removing the city’s limits on medical marijuana licenses and instead, treating the industry in a similar fashion to liquor establishments.
“I’ll be honest with you, marijuana should not be illegal,” Quinn said. “This should be above board, this should be something people have the option to do in their own home.”
Reisman, conversely, said he did not want to open the door at all to licensed infused-product manufacturers. Lisa Kamieniecki, who attended last week’s meeting and discussed the manufacture of marijuana products under the business name “Sweet Dreams,” lives next door to Reisman on Kelhi Court.
“If I vote for any (manufacturer licenses), then it could wind up in the house next door to me,” Reisman said. “There’s no way I’m voting for that.”
Reisman added that legally, marijuana is not in the same category as liquor.
“Until you have it legalized, with the same regulations as alcohol, I think it’s different,” he said.
Foote said the city has not issued any licenses for infused-product manufacturing.
Under the state laws detailed by House Bill 1284, he
said, medical marijuana centers would have a separate license for infused products and for off-premises cultivation, potentially placing as many as three separate licenses under one roof.
That would mean the city’s current threshold of three medical marijuana licenses could expand to nine licenses or more.
What to do about primary caregivers, Foote said, also will play out in the city’s upcoming discussions about proposed ordinance revisions.
“Really, the big issue is that we had one kind of business before 1284, and now we have four different kinds,” Foote said. “Those things (have) to be revised in our existing ordinance.”