Steamboat Springs City Council passes temporary emergency ordinance banning private marijuana clubs
February 6, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs has joined a growing list of municipalities in Colorado that have adopted emergency ordinances temporarily banning the establishment of private marijuana clubs.
Tuesday night’s Steamboat Springs City Council passage of an emergency moratorium will prevent the formation of any marijuana clubs within city limits until the council has a chance to start crafting a more permanent ordinance regulating all facets of Amendment 64, which legalized the consumption of marijuana in the state for adults 21 and older.
Whether the city plans to ban private pot clubs permanently won’t be clear until officials and the community have the chance to discuss it in detail.
As he proposed the emergency ordinance Tuesday night, Steamboat Springs Public Safety Director Joel Rae said it would help to eliminate a "gray area" and a loophole some are finding in Amendment 64.
"There are marijuana clubs popping up around the state of Colorado, and we’ve heard rumors of one or two possibly opening in Steamboat Springs," Rae told the City Council. "We want a stop-gap on this issue."
Rae said Wednesday that he and other city officials haven’t taken a position on whether private marijuana clubs ever should be allowed in the city.
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"We’ll get into the weeds on that when we get into the weeds of everything else," Rae said, adding that it will be up to the council and the public to decide how all aspects of Amendment 64 should be regulated in Steamboat. That includes decisions about marijuana grow operations to cultivation to recreational pot shops.
"It’s really going to be a question of how much of an impact the community of Steamboat Springs wants to see when it comes to marijuana," Rae said.
The city plans to introduce soon another ordinance banning pot clubs that will outlast the 90-day emergency moratorium passed Tuesday. The second ordinance would expire when the council adopts a broader ordinance regulating the impacts of the Amendment 64.
The issue of private marijuana clubs first popped up in late December when one started in Denver. Memberships to that club cost $29.99 and allowed people to gather and consume pot in an industrial area north of downtown Denver.
The ordinance adopted by the Steamboat Springs City Council does not apply to residential areas.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich said one of the issues with marijuana clubs is whether they violate city and state laws prohibiting smoking in certain areas, including businesses.
"It’s kind of a gray area we hope comes into more of a focus next month," Lettunich said.
In addition to Steamboat, the cities of Craig, Palisade and Fruita recently passed moratoriums banning the establishment of private pot clubs.
Many other cities in Colorado also have adopted temporary moratoriums banning the establishment of any recreational marijuana businesses.
Steamboat Springs City Council members passed on such an ordinance in November, saying it was unnecessary because no recreational marijuana facility legally can open anywhere in Colorado before Oct. 1, 2013, the date by which the Department of Revenue is supposed to begin accepting and processing applications for marijuana businesses, per the provisions of Amendment 64.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com