Eagle preps for November vote on retail marijuana
October 2, 2013
The Eagle Town Board dispensed with a hastily called and quickly conducted meeting Monday morning to safeguard itself regarding state requirements for this fall's referendum on retail marijuana operations in town.
The meeting was posted last Friday and completed in roughly 15 minutes.
When the board failed to reach a quorum for its Sept. 24 meeting, a potential procedural problem arose for the marijuana vote included on this fall's mail-in ballot. Under state rules, an election to allow retail marijuana operations can be held during this November's odd-year election. However, an election to potentially ban retail marijuana operations (as provided under last year's successful Amendment 64 vote) would have to wait until an even-year election.
Ballot question phrasing
The language of the Eagle retail marijuana ballot question is specifically phrased to meet the Amendment 64 guidelines. It states:
Shall the establishment and operation of retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana product manufacturing facilities and retail marijuana stores be permitted in the Town of Eagle, Colorado subject to the requirements of the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code and regulations to be adopted by the Town of Eagle?
Because the town board did not conduct a meeting last week, it did not institute a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana. That meant that the November vote might conflict with state law, so the board opted to convene a special meeting at 8 a.m. Monday to pass a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana to safeguard the November election.
"We needed to put the temporary moratorium in place so the people could act on it," said Town Manager Jon Stavney. "Our town attorney was nervous that we had to have something on the books by Oct. 1. This is our belt-and-suspenders action on this issue."
As for the November vote itself, it has been characterized as "straw poll" of Eagle residents regarding retail marijuana.
During the Monday session, Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick noted that Amendment 64 clearly allows town boards/city councils the power to decide whether or not to allow retail marijuana operations within their respective jurisdictions. By taking the issue to the voters, Eagle is asking citizens to weigh in on the issue, but is not legally bound by the result. With that said, however, Kostick noted the town board would plainly abide by the voters' wishes.
"It couldn't be more clear after November (what Eagle residents think about retail marijuana operations in town). Then we can move past his issue," said Kostick.
Monday's meeting included Kostick and town trustees Scott Turnipseed, Mikel Kerst and Joe Knabel. Trustees Brandi Resa, Anne McKibbin and Scot Webster were absent. Turnipseed, Knabel and Kerst voted in favor of the temporary moratorium for the purposes of the November vote. Kostick voted against the ban, saying he was not in favor of the referendum. Kostick has favored a plan to proceed with permitting and writing regulations for retail marijuana in Eagle.
Land use regulations regarding retail marijuana were on the agenda for last week's meeting, but because of the quorum issue, the town board didn't meet and the regs will have to wait until Oct. 22 for discussion. The delay is the result of legal advertising requirements. The hearing must be re-advertised and thus cannot proceed until later in the month.
In general, the town's retail marijuana land use regulations confine the use to the same parameters that the sole medical marijuana business in town — Sweet Leaf Pioneer — now follows. Additionally, the rules will restrict retail operations to one such business per 10,000 residents.
Sweet Leaf has indicated its plans to proceed with a combination license — allowing both a medical and a retail operation.
Back to the ballot
In addition to the question regarding whether or not retail marijuana will be allowed in Eagle, the town board has placed a second question on the ballot that would institute a business occupation fee up to $5 per transaction on retail marijuana purchases.
As a statutory versus home-rule town, Eagle cannot place a percentage-driven sales tax on retail marijuana purchases, but it can place a flat transaction fee on such sales.
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