Steamboat Springs The city of Steamboat Springs' top law enforcement official told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night that although the city isn't ready to craft a sweeping ordinance to regulate the newly legalized recreational marijuana industry, it is taking some steps to prepare for the sale and cultivation of the product.
“The things we can be working on now without knowing what (rules the state Legislature) is going to produce, we're working on,” Public Safety Director Joel Rae said.
He told the council that the city is trying to calculate how much it will cost to regulate new retail marijuana operations in town.
For that, it can look to existing medical marijuana operations here as a guide.
Rae said the potential costs stemming from the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized the possession and consumption of marijuana for adults 21 and older, include law enforcement monitoring of marijuana operations as well as the time and effort of the city's clerk and its attorney during the application process.
“Looking at what we have dealt with in medical marijuana, it's important to me that we be able to fund this in a manner we're able to enforce it with our police department,” Rae said.
Rae said an operating fee could be implemented to cover the city's cost of enforcing new marijuana regulations. He added that the Colorado General Assembly is recommending that local licensing entities have a fee cap of $5,000 per application.
On Tuesday night, the City Council was agreeable to Rae's proposed timeline of waiting until June to start crafting the ordinance that will regulate potential recreational marijuana operations in the city limits.
The Denver Post reported last week that the joint House-Senate committee that is crafting the rules to regulate recreational marijuana is aiming to finish its work on the bill early next month.
Commercial pot is set to be sold in the state beginning January 2014.
The city, which has until October to craft the local rules, is waiting to see what kind of legislation the state will adopt to regulate recreational marijuana.
Council members were told by Rae and city attorney Tony Lettunich that local municipalities can consider asking voters to approve a tax on new recreational marijuana operations as soon as fall.
The council provided little feedback on the update on Amendment 64 but acknowledged it had a lot of work ahead of it.
Rae said the body will be asked to consider a number of things relating to recreational marijuana and will answer such questions as where any new operations can be located, how far they must be from schools and whether they must be zoned commercially like medical marijuana establishments.
The council last waded into the zoning of marijuana establishments when it decided a medical marijuana dispensary couldn't be located across the street from Little Toots Park.
“The biggest issues facing the community are the questions of how many (retail establishments and cultivation operations) are we going to have here, and where will they be?” Rae said.
He said community members who want to weigh in on the ordinance that ultimately will regulate the implementation of Amendment 64 here should plan to be in Centennial Hall during the council's upcoming discussions this summer.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com