Eagle has been a first wave, battleground locale as Colorado enacts the processes and regulations associated with the legalization of marijuana.
But the latest skirmish in Eagle’s journey quietly passed last week when the town board unanimously approved a special use permit for Rocky Mountain Pure to operate a medical marijuana center. With that action, the town has approved all the marijuana operations it plans to for quite a while into the future.
Eagle is the only municipality in the Eagle River Valley that allows both medical and retail marijuana operations, although such operations are also allowed in unincorporated Eagle County. The town’s marijuana regulations limit the number of medical marijuana businesses licenses and retail marijuana business licenses to a maximum of two each until the Town’s population exceeds 10,000 people. When the town’s population is greater than 10,000 people, a maximum of three licenses for each type of marijuana operation will be allowed.
The two licenses, which also involve associated grow operations, have been issued to Sweet Leaf Pioneer, the small business owned by locals David and Dieneka Manzanares, and Rocky Mountain Pure, an operations that is significantly larger and owned by Denver based partners.
Sweet Leaf Pioneer opened its medical marijuana dispensary five years ago at a location along Chambers Avenue that was specifically zoned as a commercial area where marijuana businesses could be located. There was a subsequent election in which Eagle voters affirmed their support for the business and another vote last year when Eagle residents voiced support for retail marijuana operations in town. In May, Sweet Leaf launched its retail store with very limited hours required because of product availability. The business has since expanded its operating hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Sweet Leaf medical marijuana business hours mirror the retail operation, except that the medical dispensary is also open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.
In contrast, Rocky Mountain Pure out of Denver, has its town approvals in place, but its custom building has not yet been constructed along Chambers Ave.
Rocky Mountain Pure’s first proposed a retail marijuana operation in Eagle called for a $5 million, 92,850 square foot facility touted as “the nation’s premier retail marijuana destination.” Company representatives Ethan Borg and Frank Quattrone have since downsized that application to 28,000 square feet with several aspects of the original plan axed altogether. The operation would include retail sales, medical sales, cultivations, an infused products kitchen, and extraction laboratory and a research and development facility.
What Eagle doesn’t allow
As Eagle eases into retail marijuana regulation, town board members have instituted a moratorium on edible products for the newest retail marijuana operation and a ban on one type of extraction.
Town officials placed the moratorium on the sale of edibles for Rocky Mountatain Pure until the state of Colorado develops regulations for such products. Sweet Leaf Pioneer’s license predated the moratorium and the business does sell edibles.
The town prohibits the use of compressed flammable gas in the extraction of marijuana oils, which has been responsible for several explosions in the Denver area.
What Eagle Does Allow
Eagle allows the cultivation of medical marijuana by residents, patients and caregivers. The regulations limit the amount of marijuana allowed to be grown in all residential dwelling units within the town to a maximum of six plants per dwelling unit.
In the industrial zone district the town allows operators to grow a maximum of 36 plants in any industrial unit with no more than six plants per qualified adult. Any cultivation of marijuana for personal use in either a residential or non-residential unit requires a safety inspection by the town building official.
In addition to the Eagle-specific rules, Colorado has enacted marijuana regulations that are enforced statewide including:
Retail marijuana customers must be 21 or older, with a valid government ID, to purchase, smoke and possess marijuana in Colorado.
Much like in a liquor store, individuals will need to show an ID in order to make purchases.
Coloradans 18 and older can get a medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2000 in Colorado, and the annual registration fee has been reduced to $15.
Shops have hours mandated by the state, much like liquor stores, so no purchases can be made before 8 a.m.
In a single transaction, Colorado residents can purchase up to 1 ounce, while out-of-state visitors will be able to purchase 1/4 ounce. All adults 21 and older will be able to possess up to 1 ounce on their person.
Most retail marijuana operations will only accept cash. Federal banking regulations mean that marijuana stores commonly don’t have access to banking services. People can make multiple purchases in the same day, as long as they do not exceed the 1 ounce limit.
The only place it’s 100 percent OK to consume marijuana is in a private residence, with permission from the owner. Most ski slopes are on federal land, where marijuana use and possession is still illegal. The same holds true with national parks, national forests and national monuments. Hotels and resorts can institute their own smoking policies. Under Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act, pot smoking isn’t allowed anywhere that cigarette smoking is also banned. Consumption is specifically banned in any state-licensed marijuana facility.
Many shops must be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, and the state has mandated any marijuana products must be sold in child-proof packaging. Certain marketing has also been banned, in hopes of limiting exposure to children. Sharing or giving marijuana to minors is a crime, which carries similar penalties as providing alcohol to minors.
A state law creates a preset limit for drivers, similar to alcohol. Drivers with a reading of 5 nanograms of active THC in their systems will be considered impaired and will be cited. It is illegal to smoke or eat marijuana in a moving vehicle, but it may be carried as long as it is in a closed container.
Marijuana users are not allowed to take marijuana out of the state. Every city and county in Colorado has its own marijuana regulations, so even transporting from place to place in state can be tricky. It is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if it was purchased legally in Colorado.
Information compiled by the Summit Daily News, the Denver Post and the Eagle Free Enterprise