Commissioners supportive of extending marijuana moratorium

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday gave its initial approval for extending the moratorium that forbids marijuana businesses from operating in unincorporated parts of the county.

The moratorium was set to expire at the end of the year. The second and final vote of the moratorium ordinance is scheduled for June 10.

Routt County already has a full-on ban on medicinal marijuana businesses. The moratorium is specific to recreational marijuana businesses.

The moratorium first was passed in March 2013, just months after Amendment 64 was passed by Colorado voters Nov. 6, 2012. The amendment made it legal for people 21 and older to consume marijuana, and it established the initial framework for businesses that wanted to be in the recreational marijuana business.

While communities like Steamboat Springs allowed recreational marijuana businesses, other towns and counties across Colorado enacted moratoriums so they could better understand the impacts. The process of understanding the impacts, especially on law enforcement, is ongoing.

“The impacts have not been felt yet,” Assistant County Attorney Erick Knaus said. “We don’t know the impacts.”

Commissioners Doug Monger and Steve Ivancie recognized there could be positive economic impacts from marijuana grow operations, but they wanted more time and were concerned about things such as water, sewer, power and air quality infrastructure that would need to be put in place.

“Right now, we’re just talking about kicking the can down the road for a year,” Monger said.

Knaus said staff members have spent a lot of time already on issues related to marijuana.

“The hard work is going to continue for the next year,” Knaus said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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