The city of Steamboat Springs is recommending conditional approval of Golden Leaf's retail marijuana application. The store still must earn its state license and approval from the regional building department before opening its doors for retail sales.

Photo by Scott Franz

The city of Steamboat Springs is recommending conditional approval of Golden Leaf's retail marijuana application. The store still must earn its state license and approval from the regional building department before opening its doors for retail sales.

City of Steamboat now recommending approval of retail marijuana license for Golden Leaf

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— The city of Steamboat Springs is giving Golden Leaf a chance to prove it can be a responsible retail pot shop despite some ongoing reservations city officials have about the competency of the store's ownership.

The store last week passed a final inspection, and on Tuesday night, city staff will recommend the Steamboat Springs City Council, which acts as the marijuana licensing authority, approve Golden Leaf's retail license.

But after multiple failed inspections of the retail store and some problems two of the store's owners have had filling out paperwork correctly, city officials say they still have some concerns about the business.

“They're going to have our attention,” Police Chief Joel Rae said Monday. “We are going to be conducting frequent inspections and compliance checks. We're going to do that with Rocky Mountain Remedies, too, but until we're 100 percent comfortable with (Golden Leaf), those might be happening there more frequently.”

Golden Leaf co-owner Charlie Magnuson said the three owners have worked with the city to address their concerns.

"We're making progress over here," Magnuson said. "We're excited to open. There was some confusion on some of this stuff, but we've passed (the inspection). Anything that was a problem we fixed instantly."

The city last month recommended that the licensing authority deny Golden Leaf's retail marijuana application because of the previously failed inspections and city staff's original determination that owner Josh Scruggs was not of “good moral character” because Scruggs failed to disclose his criminal history when the business submitted its recreational marijuana application to the city.

However, after a recent meeting Scruggs had with Police Chief Rae, City Clerk Julie Franklin and City Attorney Dan Foote, the city backed off of its characterization of Scruggs as not being of good moral charcter.

They determined his misrepresentation was negligent, not intentional.

“It’s not like I was purposefully lying,” Scruggs told the Steamboat Today before that meeting. “To me, it was just a misunderstanding and my mistake.”

Scruggs told city staff his error stemmed from “stress from his personal life,” differences between state and city applications and “being overwhelmed by the extensive and complicated paperwork required to open a retail marijuana business.”

The city accepted his explanation but wrote to the licensing authority that the mistake still “raises different concerns regarding competence.”

City officials said co-owner Golden Anderson "also has had difficulty accurately completing the individual history form."

The application errors aren't the only item Golden Leaf has had to address in recent weeks.

According to city staff, Golden Leaf's medical marijuana business also is the subject of a pending state investigation “due to their apparent violation of inventory management regulations.”

Magnuson said the store has corrected all of the problems found by the state's medical marijuana enforcement agency, including one camera that wasn't in position to monitor the medical marijuana inventory on a shelf.

"We moved it instantly, and it was corrected," Magnuson said. "Everything has been fixed."

Colorado Department of Revenue spokeswoman Daria Serna confirmed that the investigation was ongoing, but she couldn't comment on an open investigation.

The store, located just west of downtown on U.S. Highway 40, is aiming to become the second retail pot shop to open in the city.

The store passed the most recent inspection on Feb. 26, and city staff indicated the approval comes as the store's owners are making “good faith efforts to comply.”

The city will hold a public hearing on the store's application around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Magnuson said it could be a little while before the retail shop actually opens for business.

In addition to the city license, Golden Leaf still needs its state license approved.

The store also is awaiting approval from the Routt County Regional Building Department regarding the construction of a separate entrance for retail sales.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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