Hayden Hayden officials on Thursday said they intend to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana sales and growing operations within the town.
After hearing opinions from 19 members of the public, most of the Hayden Town Council members said they supported waiting to see how recreational marijuana sales roll out in other Colorado communities throughout the next few years.
"Today, we need to stay out of it," Councilwoman Lorraine Johnson said. "There is no reason why we need to jump two feet into a black hole."
The council directed Town Manager David Torgler to come back with an ordinance that would ban the retail, manufacturing and cultivation of marijuana.
Before making a decision, Town Council members had asked for more feedback from the community leading up to an October deadline to have rules in place. They got more feedback with about 35 people attending Thursday’s meeting. About eight of the 19 people who spoke were against allowing the sales or grow operations.
Hayden resident Jill Delay said she thought the council would be sending an inconsistent message to residents and children, and she did not think the potential tax revenue was worth allowing marijuana sales.
"If it’s for the almighty dollar, I think it's selling out," Delay said.
About an equal number of people were supportive of allowing marijuana operations.
Kevin Fisher, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Remedies medical marijuana dispensary in Steamboat, said he came to the meeting to speak on behalf of Hayden residents who wanted the marijuana operations.
Fisher estimated the town would receive $50,000 in tax revenues annually from marijuana sales.
The passage of Amendment 64 in November legalized personal use and put in place timelines for the opening of businesses that can sell marijuana for recreational use.
The amendment passed statewide with 55 percent of the popular vote. In Routt County, 63 percent of voters supported it.
In Precinct 2, which includes the portion of Hayden north of U.S. Highway 40, 49.5 percent of voters supported Amendment 64. In Precinct 5, which includes the portion of Hayden south of U.S. 40, 51 percent of voters supported marijuana legalization.
Even if Hayden had allowed marijuana operations, it likely would have been January 2015 before a retail business could open in Hayden. That is because at first, only medicinal marijuana operators will be allowed to operate businesses selling marijuana for recreational use.
Council members said that even though they are staying away from marijuana for now, they would like to continue the conversation with people in the community and with those who would potentially want to do business in Hayden.
“I guess I'd like to go over and see what a grow facility smells like and how it impacts the community,” Mayor Jim Haskins said. “Those are things that I would like to look into.”
The Hayden Economic Development Commission prepared a statement on the issue.
“The Hayden Economic Development Commission recognizes the economic benefits of marijuana retail and manufacturing aspects and requests that the town council explores the issue further through a community dialogue and pursuing ordinances and regulations that carefully consider the economic, environmental and social impacts,” the statement read.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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