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To Liz and the editors.....
A hallmark of sloppy, agenda-driven journalism is an incongruity between the tone and content of an article. In this piece, the reader is provided these facts about marijuana consumption:
Regional usage for the youth demographic is below the state average
Regional usage for the adult demographic is below the state average
State usage rates for youth are below the national average
These trends have been in steady decline since 2009, when retail availability of medical marijuana became prevalent.
However, the title of the article reads "....and raises questions regarding youth exposure."
Additionally, within the article we read "The correlation between adult use, legalization and youth use is not all negative, though." Interpreting that sentence in a vacuum would imply a negative correlation had been discussed, but in context it reads as: "but wait, maybe it's not all bad news."
The bottom line: The Chicken Littles were wrong, the sky is not falling, and actually engaging youth in a discussion about marijuana instead of insulting their intelligence with mindless fear-mongering seems to be working. I support Grand Futures' agenda of education, behavior modification, proper storage, and alternative activity solutions. This is what has worked and will continue to work. These types of programs and attitudes are what lead youth to have lowered perceptions of the "oh my God, think about the kids" dangers of marijuana use, while at the same time, allowing them to develop a more circumspect understanding of the negative outcomes associated with its improper use and thereby, lowering consumption rates overall.
I do not however, support the Pilot continuing to sensationalize an issue that doesn't exist, nor their typical slang-rich "pot" pieces. I'd suggest they follow in the footsteps of our kids and grow up a bit.
Subjectively, the current operators have, without lawful requirement, self-limited our marketing and have remained located outside of the main tourist corridors. Maybe the Pilot is ginning-up this discussion in hopes of increased ad revenue? Additionally, the three (6) current centers are locally-owned and operated, meaning that our revenues and payrolls stay here in Steamboat. Don't bet on that being the case in an expanded program. Also, let's look at pricing. We at RMR have always been aggressive when compared to comps in the Denver metro market and we have been outright bullish when compared to similar resort towns. I encourage readers to evaluate pricing in Vail-Eagle, Aspen, and Breckenridge. In many cases, we charge 20% less for our products....don't count on lower prices going hand-in-hand with expanded licensing.
The bottom line is this: Council is attempting to strike a balance between what's best for the community and what's best for business. This space is in no way comparable to restaurants and hardware stores and to draw that correlation shows and embarrassing lack of information and understanding. By simply adding a few more retail marijuana licenses to Steamboat's current count, the marijuana biz would not suddenly be converted into a free market- so many more variables than that are in play. As many are likely unaware: our businesses cannot even bank locally. So long as a service so basic as this remains unavailable to our sector, we cannot rightfully be considered "just like any other business" and industry-specific rules and regulations remain appropriate.
Well, the Pliot and Today Editorial Board has certainly come a long way from this:
"Our View: Medical marijuana centers should be banned"
From counting other business' money (have any idea what the levels of OPEX, CAPEX, and taxation...eg 280-e, are required to operate in this highly-regulated space?), to the dismissive tone regarding current licensees "protecting Steamboat’s small town character," this is, quite simply, a poorly researched and poorly conceptualized opinion piece.
I am a registered independent, and like many of my generation, hold in high regard libertarian-leaning ideologies such as fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.
However, at both local and state levels there is nothing "free market" about Colorado's marijuana system. This industry is subject to: moratoria, production limits, zoning restrictions, advertising limitations, consumption limitations, purchase limitations, supplementary taxation, employment restrictions, ownership restrictions, product restrictions, capital investment restrictions, packaging restrictions, operating hour restrictions, signage restrictions....I could go on and on.
As such, Council's decision to continue forward with a license limit for the city falls well within the scope of marijuana regulation that we see today.
Objectively, there are currently more retail marijuana dispensaries per user in Steamboat than there are retail liquor stores (more than 2x's the rate) and our store density surpasses that of Denver (1 for every 4,000 vs 1 for every 4,500), which has been oft-derided as having "more marijuana" than Starbucks. Furthermore, local ordinance requires that our businesses remain vertically-integrated (grow what we sell) on the recreational side, even though state law does not. This is fine by me, but to meet market demand, which we do, a significant capital investment in cultivation infrastructure was required and seasoning of that investment should be considered.
Once again it seems that the subject of marijuana has prompted a robust debate.
I have been heavily involved in cannabis policymaking at the state and national levels for some years now. Throughout this work, I don't think that there is a question/concern/critique regarding this substance that I have not yet heard. More importantly, at least in Colorado, all of what I have read here today has been addressed either at the administrative or legislative level.
Are the rules/laws governing marijuana in CO perfect? No. Are they the most comprehensively debated regulations in the country born from stakeholder input that was representative of diverse interest groups? Yes.
The bottom line......Steamboat is a special community that I am proud to call home. We at RMR take seriously our responsibility to be trustworthy stewards of this industry and hope our citizens recognize that many of our efforts to that end are neither required by statute or regulation. Will will always remain open to your input as we'd prefer to shake hands rather than gnash teeth. However, there is some misinformation provided in the comments above. Some of it has been corrected, some has not. I encourage any member of our community to reach out to me personally with any questions, comments, or concerns he or she may have about cannabis or the associated regulatory structures.
My personal cell: 970-846-1081
My personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From a casual reader on this board -- it seems that from you one can always count on an uninformed comment or accusation.
I would take personal offense in this case, but see above.
That written, while I cannot account for my colleagues' business practices, I can assure you that for the last 4+ years we at RMR have paid every last cent due our governments.
In fact, we do not operate a cash-only business and happily accept credit cards.
In fact, because of a wrinkle in the tax code known as 280-e, my personal and business income tax liability ran north of 60% last year.
In fact, we helped to fund, and stumped for Proposition AA which allows for the special marijuana sales and excise taxes to be levied.
In fact, I have supported the application of retail sales taxes in every jurisdiction in which RMR and its subsidiaries operate, regardless of the fact that these taxes typically are not applied to other medicines.
Too bad cynicism isn't a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana recommendation in this state, as I'd be happy to remedy that chronic affliction for you.
Criticizing the messenger in this instance is misspent effort, as I believe Kenny's position is shared by many in our community. Indeed, I am sure numerous constituents have taken time from his grocery shopping over the years to express these very sentiments.
However, I am interested in seeing some hard data on just how "unsafe" Yampa Street, in its current state, is for pedestrians, et al. If this oft-repeated "public safety" rationale for revamping that stretch of road is founded, then by all means, let's discuss.....but, I have a sneaking suspicion that those horrible, horrible pedestrian pads that extend off every corner downtown account for many more close-calls from turning pickups (not many of those in this town, eh?) than do parked cars on Yampa.
If I am correct, then the real questions are: What is the majority community vision for the street and what do we need to do, if anything, to realize it in a way that is congruent with that vision while eliminating ancillary impacts to both the local businesses and downtown parking inventory?
Let's also not forget about prosecutorial discretion. If Mr. Barkey feels that the solemnity of his office requires that he follow through on this handful of possession cases; Then I also expect him not to plea a single case while D.A., and afford each-and-every individual charged with a crime a Constitutionally-provided jury trial.
I won't hold my breath.
Mr. Campbell, while passionate, once again knows not from whence he speaks. The passage of Amendment 20 was in no way engineered to lay the groundwork for the legalization of recreational cannabis. Just look to the current schism between Alan St. Pierre, NORML's director, and the MMJ community for evidence.
As for the safety of our roads: here is where Mr. Campbell show a very serious deficiency of knowledge. Firstly, to quote the author-
"DUID enforcement for driving under the influence of pot would be very difficult to prove."
This is patently false. Our State's prosecutors enjoy a 90% conviction rate for DUID offenses. Enough said.
Beyond this, however, we can expose those crusaders' against "the Devil weed" true agenda. They simply don't agree with cannabis use and do not believe that we, as citizens, should have the right to choose for ourselves.
Public health and highway safety are but smokescreens. Last year there were about 445,000 deaths in the U.S. attributable to tobacco use. Over the same period, there were approximately 45,000 deaths due to auto accidents. If Mr. Campbell was truly concerned with his fellow-man's well being, this op-ed would have focused upon, instead of glossing-over, the dangers of tobacco use.
I challenge the opponents of cannabis use to be honest with themselves and their countrymen. Just come out and state that you don't like marijuana. It may be because of your faith, your upbringing, or that girl who turned you down because you were a "square." But please, stop this hogwash about public safety and your concern for users' welfare. That dish has been served for too long, and frankly, is starting to stink.
edit- just sold
Howzabout the rancher who doesn't have to worry about paying for college because he just a piece of his acreage to those dressed as Volt owners for a healthy sum? What about when the same rancher then puts in a gravel pit right by said owners. Additionally, what about the fact that now drilling has come to town, the same rancher smiles smugly at the fact that he separated the mineral rights in said sale and intends to proceed with drilling in those same people's backyards, in a visual corridor, on a ridgeline?
I guess my real question is: when does this/do these minority ranchers, many of whom have profited tidily off of the earnings of those buffoon Volt owners, recognize the rights of their majority fellow citizens? Certainly, Routt County's ag heritage is why we are all here in the first place and is a facet of our community that should be well-preserved. However, the times they are-a-changin. We are now a dynamic, diverse community. And, like it or not, our collective futures rest in the health of our tourism-based economy. To mock, ridicule and coerce those who look to protect the aesthetic and ecologic beauty of this special place is self-serving and short-sighted.
I very strongly support the individual rights of property owners. However, when the decisions made by those owners may affect the rest of the community, there is a place for regulatory oversight. Hence, the Routt County Building Department, Planning Department, etc, etc.
Domestic oil and gas exploration is not just an energy issue, it is a national security issue. That does not, however, mean we should not proceed with their extraction in a cautious, conscientious manner. Those fossil fuels have been there for millennia, they aren't going anywhere.
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