Vail unsure how to regulate pot
Ryan Summerlin December 19, 2012
VAIL, Colorado – When Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 last month authorizing recreational use of marijuana, it left attorneys and government agencies scratching their heads.
The town of Vail is one of those agencies. Town Attorney Matt Mire told the town council Tuesday night that the town could consider banning marijuana businesses from town – similar to what the town did to prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from opening within town limits – as soon as council members choose.
But there are still so many questions about what the state and federal government are going to do that town council members were hesitant to make any major regulatory decisions.
Councilman Greg Moffet asked whether the town has done any analyses on proximity to schools and churches. The answer was no. He also asked if the town were to permit the sale of marijuana, could it impose whatever tax it wants on the product.
And while theoretically the answer to that question is yes, attorney Kendra Carberry, also counsel for the town, said it would first require a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) election.
Mire said the town has already been getting a “flood of inquiries” to Finance Director Judy Camp’s office about potential marijuana business licenses. He said a council decision on the matter soon could at least stop the bombardment of inquiries. That being said, he told the council that most lawyers are waiting for the federal government’s official position on the matter.
Councilwoman Kerry Donovan said she’s heard from many community members that “the image that is stereotyped with marijuana is the not the image of Vail.”
The town can’t prohibit a person from using marijuana in the privacy of their own home, Mire said, unless they’re creating a nuisance. There are other options, however, such as regulations on open use and display of the drug.
That could also get complicated because of the town’s countless mixed residential and commercial buildings, Mire said. Mire posed as a question whether someone on their private residential deck overlooking Bridge Street, for example, would be in violation of open use and display.
Councilwoman Margaret Rogers stood by her position on the medical marijuana ban – she said if the voters approved it, then she’s in no place to override their desire. She pointed out that 71 percent of Vail residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational use of marijuana last month.
“I’m very reluctant to impose my personal view on the public when the public have told us what they want,” Rogers said. “I’m more than happy to talk about zoning and other kinds of regulation of commercial marijuana, but I certainly am not going to be voting to ban it.”
The town is expected to discuss the matter again once the state has outlined its position on the amendment.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.