Steamboat City Council to consider motion to delay pot ban |

Steamboat City Council to consider motion to delay pot ban

Jack Weinstein

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is considering a motion that would allow medical marijuana businesses to continue operating till Jan. 1, 2012, even if voters ban them at the ballot box in November.

The ballot question that City Council members approved June 7 would have banned medical marijuana businesses immediately if residents voted in favor of it this fall. But City Council attorney Tony Lettunich said he will present a revised question that extends the time in which Steamboat's three dispensaries could operate.

Lettunich said he spoke with Colorado Department of Revenue officials, who enforce the state's medical marijuana industry, about the possibility of an immediate ban in Steamboat. He said that scenario wouldn't allow the local dispensary owners to wind down their business operations, including getting rid of excess marijuana legally.

If voters ban medical marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and infused-product makers, Lettunich said delaying the ban to the first of the year was a more orderly way to allow the businesses to close.

"It really cleans it up for everybody, the dispensaries, the state enforcement people," he said. "It seems like a better way to do it."

Lettunich said that if the council doesn't approve the new motion, the ban of medical marijuana businesses would take place after the city clerk certifies the vote, if residents approve it.

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Marijuana became legal for people with certain medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation when Colorado voters approved Amendment 20 in 2000. The measure also was supported by a majority of Routt County residents.

Steamboat's three dispensaries opened in 2009. The City Council approved an ordinance that defined rules for their operation in January 2010. It was updated to confirm that the city allows their operation in compliance with Amendment 20 but does not recognize the commercial operations defined by Colorado House Bill 1284, which is new state legislation approved last year to better regulate the industry.

The possibility of a ban was raised locally April 5 when Steamboat Springs Police Department Capt. Joel Rae and Dr. Brian Harrington, of Yampa Valley Medical Associates, asked City Council members to ban the controversial practice.

Tonight's City Council meeting begins at 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. Other agenda items include:

■ Second reading of an ordinance amending the secondary units and accessory structures municipal codes

■ An economic development update

■First reading of an amended city noise ordinance

■Second reading of an ordinance extending the rafting season on the Yampa River from Confluence Park to the Stock Bridge Transit Center

■ An update from Mainstreet Steamboat Springs

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203

or email

Ballot language

Shall the city of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, ban, effective January 1, 2012, the cultivation, manufacture and sale of medical marijuana, including the operations of medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation operations, and the manufacture of medical marijuana-infused products, unless such person does so as a patient or primary caregiver as authorized by Art. XVIII, Sec. 14 of the Colorado Constitution and pursuant to regulations enacted by the city; further authorizing the city to codify this ban in the municipal code.

Yes or No.

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