City Council to take up medical marijuana's future in town

City attorney has drafted potential ballot questions for November vote

Advertisement

Proposed medical marijuana ballot questions

■ A. Shall the city of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, ban the cultivation, manufacture and sale of medical marijuana, including the operations of medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations, and the manufacture of medical marijuana-infused products, unless such person does so as a patient or primary caregiver as authorized by Art. XVIII, Sec. 14 of the Colorado Constitution and pursuant to regulations enacted by the city; further authorizing the city to codify this ban in the municipal code?

Yes or No.

■ B. Shall the city of Steamboat Springs’ taxes be increased by $ _ annually (first full fiscal year increase), and by whatever amounts are raised annually thereafter, through the adoption of an ordinance imposing a medical marijuana tax at the rate of 5.0% on the price paid or charged for medical marijuana and medical marijuana paraphernalia, all such taxes to be in addition to any sales tax then currently assessed by the city; and shall all revenues derived from such medical marijuana tax be collected and spent as a voter approved revenue change and an exception to the limits which would otherwise apply pursuant to Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law, and allowing such revenue to be expended as the city council shall determine?

Yes or No.

■ C. Shall the city of Steamboat Springs’ taxes be increased by $ _ annually (first full fiscal year increase), and by whatever amounts are raised annually thereafter, through the adoption of an ordinance imposing a medical marijuana tax at the rate of 5.0% on the price paid or charged for medical marijuana and medical marijuana paraphernalia, all such taxes to be in addition to any sales tax then currently assessed by the city; and shall all revenues derived from such medical marijuana tax be collected and spent as a voter approved revenue change and an exception to the limits which would otherwise apply pursuant to Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law, and dedicating the expenditure of all such sales tax to educating minors about the effects of marijuana and to mitigating the impacts of the sale of medical marijuana in the community?

Yes or No.

— The future of the medical marijuana industry in Steamboat Springs will be addressed by the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night.

Council members will consider ballot questions that would allow city voters to decide in November whether medical marijuana businesses will be allowed to continue operating in Steamboat.

What the meeting won’t include is a debate about the pros and cons of the treatment method, City Council President Cari Hermacinski said.

“I don’t want to get into a wide-ranging discussion about whether medical marijuana is beneficial for health and what it means for the image of the community,” she said. “We’ve had that wide-ranging discussion. Now it’s a matter of whether we will put this language on the ballot or not.”

On May 17, the City Council voted, 4-3, against a ban of medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat, but unanimously supported a ballot measure that would allow the public to decide.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich has been working to prepare drafts of ballot questions for council members to consider that would ask residents if they want to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, infused-product makers and grow operations, but not patients and primary caregivers, in compliance with Amendment 20.

Lettunich also will present a ballot question that includes imposing an additional 5 percent sales tax on medical marijuana and paraphernalia sales. An alternative question would add the sales tax and devote the revenue to youth education and programs to mitigate the impacts of medical marijuana in the community.

Colorado voters approved the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions with a doctor’s recommendation in 2000 by voting in favor of Amendment 20. It also was supported by a majority of Routt County voters.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have operated in Steamboat since 2009 when three opened late that year. The City Council approved an ordinance in January 2010, which defined rules for their operation in Steamboat.

The idea to ban medical marijuana businesses locally was raised by Steamboat Springs Police Department Capt. Joel Rae and Dr. Brian Harrington, of Yampa Valley Medical Associates. They expressed their support for a ban at the April 5 City Council meeting.

And last week, Steamboat residents Lisa Watts and Dr. Kelly Victory hosted the first meeting of a group to oppose medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat.

Kevin Fisher, co-owner of Steamboat dispensary Rocky Mountain Remedies, reiterated last week that he would wait until after Tuesday’s meeting to organize his group in support of local medical marijuana businesses. But Fisher said he would attend the meeting to express his displeasure with the City Council’s decision to approve putting a question on the ballot.

“I think the City Council is terribly remiss to put this on the ballot themselves,” he said. “We have other mechanisms in this community to get a question on a ballot.”

City Clerk Julie Franklin said the citizen referendum process requires signatures from 10 percent of eligible voters in the previous regular municipal election, which is 829.

Also Tuesday, the City Council will consider a second reading of a revision to the ordinance that permits the operation of three medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat.

City staff attorney Dan Foote said the ordinance council members will consider Tuesday has changed since he started working on it in October to bring the city in compliance with House Bill 1284. The legislation defined rules to regulate the state’s medical marijuana industry, including dispensaries, infused-product manufacturers and grow operations.

“The original proposal would have changed our regulations to say these business are allowed to operate, subject to certain restrictions and the three-license limit,” Foote said.

He said that since the possibility of a ban was raised, the language of the draft ordinance on the agenda Tuesday has been adjusted to resemble what

already exists. Foote said the new ordinance would permit the existing three dispensaries operations as defined by Amendment 20, but does not recognize the definitions of medical marijuana commercial operations created by House Bill 1284.

Even though there’s a possibility residents will vote to ban medical marijuana businesses in November, Hermacinski said the council still needs to approve a second reading of the ordinance.

“We want to make sure we have appropriate language in place so we can show the state that we acted prior to July 1,” she said about the deadline the state imposed for local governments to allow or ban medical marijuana businesses. “We want to make sure we have local control over medical marijuana dispensaries without being subject to state rules, wherever possible.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Glenn Little II 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow, Is this town still full of the KKK members who discriminated and persecuted black people? I feel there pain, but instead of a sign like Craig, Co had hanging for years that said " Don't show your black face after the sun sets in this town" or somewhere along those lines. Now it's an article in the newspaper saying if you are a MMJ patient we don't take kindly to your kind around these parts. Well if the dispensaries are banned then every patient is going to find a way to grow there own plants around town.. So instead of knowing how much marijuana is being grown and taxed creating revenue for our community, this group to oppose dispensaries would rather have thousands of operations growing marijuana around town. Totally tax free and unnoticed.. Everything seems to be getting more and more expensive nowadays that is except for the price of marijuana. There are thousands of people in our community who are using MMJ as a scapegoat for there own problems and money issues. Now they want an additional 5% tax to help pay for people to learn common sense about marijuana which does not really cost anything at all. Maybe if the public was not misled in the first place then we could all get along. I think the real question here is whether or not people who use MMJ should have equal rights !

0

hereandthere 2 years, 10 months ago

Why not a 5% tax on alcohol sales to fund educating minors to the effects of this drug and to mitigate its impact on the community?

0

1999 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm darn sure we have plenty of education models for minors...the first one being parents.

0

rhys jones 2 years, 10 months ago

And now I am confused. Are we talking tendencies toward alcohol abuse, or senses of entitlement? Are these inherited things, or learned?

0

rhys jones 2 years, 10 months ago

I also agree with Kevin -- there are other measures to get something on the ballot, like good old petitions, much as we would have to do, were we so inclined towards full legalization or such. I wouldn't expect City Council to ramrod that onto the ballot either.

0

canyonwind 2 years, 10 months ago

Making stupid comments about KKK makes the rest of MMJ supporters look real stupid. Get off you butt and get down to the county building and register to vote or in a few years you will be buying your MMJ from one of those two phoneys at inflated prices!

0

CedarBeauregard 2 years, 10 months ago

I wanted to share the note I sent City Council..

Hello City Council,

I just want to voice my concern with the extra 5% tax dollars funding teen programs.. This would be a joining at the hips of two very conflicting entities.. I'm thinking you might as well cast a bronze plaque with a pot leaf on it and attach it to the newly built teen center.. I don't think it sends a good message even if the money could be well used.

Please give it to substance abuse rehab of some kind.

I would also like the logical conflict of "sin" taxing a "medical treatment" be discussed.. Its either medicine or a recreational drug.. Call it what it is but sin taxing a medicine also sends a very mixed message..

Thanks for listening,

Cedar Beauregard

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.