Moffat County and city of Craig pass emergency moratoriums on so-called 'pot clubs'

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— The Moffat County Board of Commissioners and Craig’s City Council are moving forward with ordinances that ban private marijuana clubs.

Moffat County commissioners voted 2-0 on Tuesday to impose a moratorium against the use or consumption of marijuana on commercial or industrial-zoned properties in unincorporated areas of the county. The ordinance takes effect immediately.

Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe said the board will consider another moratorium prohibiting the establishment of retail marijuana stores during the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting next week.

In a similar move, the Craig City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday night to extend its moratorium on marijuana clubs. The ordinance must be approved on a second reading — currently scheduled for March 12 — before it takes effect.

Ordinance 1029, which was presented by Craig City Manager Jim Ferree and contract attorney Sherman Romney, mirrors an emergency ordinance passed by the council in January that prohibits the establishment of private pot clubs. Because the emergency ordinance is scheduled to expire March 23, Ferree said he asked Romney to draft an amended ordinance that would extend the moratorium in accordance with the state’s timeline to develop rules and regulations concerning recreational marijuana businesses in light of the passage of Amendment 64.

Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 last November, legalizing the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. Opposition outnumbered support in Moffat County by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. However, the majority of voters in five of the county’s 13 precincts approved Amendment 64, including the precincts that touch the center of the city of Craig.

According to the provisions of Amendment 64, state lawmakers have until July 1 to draft regulations for a retail marijuana industry, and the state must begin accepting retail store applications by October. Amendment 64 allows for individual municipalities to prohibit pot shops within their jurisdictions.

If the state does not meet its deadline, Romney said the Craig city ordinance features a clause that would keep the moratorium in place until such date that municipalities receive direction from the state through legislative action.

This week’s actions by Moffat County and Craig officials mirrors similar steps taken by government officials in Steamboat Springs and Hayden.

The Hayden Town Council directed town staff last week to craft an emergency ordinance that prohibits the opening of pot clubs until Oct. 1.

Earlier this month the Steamboat Springs City Council adopted an emergency ordinance that temporarily bans the establishment of marijuana clubs. City officials plan to introduce a follow-up ordinance that would extend the length of the ban until the council adopts a broader ordinance regulating the impacts of Amendment 64.

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