VAIL, Colorado - The town of Vail isn't going to consider any applications for marijuana businesses or private marijuana clubs for at least six months.
Vail Town Council members decided Tuesday to temporarily ban marijuana establishments so the town can further study where such establishments should be allowed, if at all. Under new Colorado law, municipalities "may prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or retail marijuana stores through the enactment of an ordinance."
Town attorney Matt Mire said the town needs time to study the state regulations before revisiting the discussion to decide next steps.
"We didn't want to jump the gun and get ahead of the state on it," Mire said.
Amendment 64, which voters approved in November, legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, is something municipalities around the state are trying to address.
Private pot clubs have popped up in Denver and Boulder that claim to operate legally under Amendment 64. Owners of those clubs have told the media that the new law permits someone to provide a private space for people to smoke marijuana.
The Fruita City Council voted this week on a moratorium on private pot clubs, also citing the need to wait for more state regulations and legislation on the issue. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Fruita is expected to formalize a more lasting ordinance in February, since the emergency ordinance passed this week is only valid for 61 days.
The city of Greenwood Village has also developed a strict interpretation of Amendment 64, limiting possession and usage and restricting use or transportation on public property, including parks, trails, streets and sidewalks.
Mire said the Greenwood Village ordinance covers a lot of ground - he suspects many city departments, from police to fire to zoning, had a say in writing the law.
The town of Vail could decide to allow the private clubs and not the commercial stores or vice versa, or they could choose to ban them both, although the town cannot prohibit what Amendment 64 legalized: The personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana in Colorado for adults 21 years of age and older.
If the town does allow commercial businesses, there will likely be a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) election in the future asking voters for a tax on pot.
"(The Vail Town Council) will have the right to not allow the businesses in town, but they still can't stop the possession," Mire said.
The town also approved on first reading an ordinance that matches Vail code to Amendment 64. For example, Vail's code currently makes possession of marijuana illegal, which needs to be changed to coincide with state law.
"That (ordinance) was a cleanup," said Town Manager Stan Zemler. "When a statewide statute passes, we have to bring our regulations into compliance."
The town is expected to approve the ordinance on second reading at its Feb. 5 meeting.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.