Vail council wants more info on pot clubs
VAIL — While many assume marijuana sales have been totally prohibited in town, the truth is the final decision on the issue still has not been made.
Since the state of Colorado began allowing retail marijuana operations last year, the town of Vail has been under a moratorium banning them. That moratorium, however, is only temporary and is set to expire on Aug. 4. On Tuesday, the Town Council heard from director of community development and recreational marijuana working group leader George Ruther and deliberated on how to proceed. Their options, as stated by Ruther, include either banning sales, allowing sales or banning sales but allowing some regulated consumption.
“What is the experience of Aspen, and what is the experience of Breckenridge?” council member Margaret Rogers asked Ruther. “One of the reasons we delayed this for a year was so we could sit back and see what happens with other areas who include this in town.”
HEARING FROM OTHERS
Council member Greg Moffet and Mayor Andy Daly also said they wanted to receive feedback from Aspen and Breckenridge regarding their experiences with retail marijuana.
Council member Jenn Bruno said she wanted to hear from lodging and restaurants; councilman Dale Bugby, himself a hotelier, said he had talked to general managers of hotels in Breckenridge about the issue.
“The general consensus is it’s tourism neutral,” he said. “One thing they seem to get asked now is, ‘Do you have any matches?’”
Bugby said there’s plenty of information available to answer the other council members’ questions.
“I don’t think we need to send staff back out, I think we need to do our own research,” he said. “I think we ought to draft an ordinance on it and vote on it.”
Moffet, on the other hand, said by not taking any action on the issue, Vail’s zoning defaults to not allowing retail shops as they’re not specifically permitted in the town’s code. He expressed interest in taking that approach for now.
One thing several council members expressed interest in is more definition as to where marijuana could be used.
“By not allowing it anywhere, we’re forcing it outdoors,” Moffet said. “The question I’m wrestling with is, ‘How do you get it off the street?’”
Referencing a pot club in Black Hawk, council members told Ruther they wanted more information on how those would work in town.
As a point of clarification “we’re talking about marijuana clubs where people can consume it,” Mayor Daly said.
Ruther said among the questions he would be returning to the council with answers to are how those clubs work, where they have been operating, how they are operated, the legalities surrounding them and what some of the potential benefits of a smoking club could be.
A representative from the Eagle River Youth Coalition, as well as a man identifying himself as a parent and a Vail taxpayer, spoke out against allowing retail marijuana sales in Vail.
Vail resident Eric Perkins asked if there’s no place to use marijuana, then what is the point of discussing the sale of it?
Rogers said a distinction needs to be made between ingesting and vaping versus smoking marijuana.
“Most of users are using vaporizers or edibles,” she said.
Ruther said he also plans on getting answers to how Aspen and Breckenridge were affected by retail marijuana, the impact it had on their brands and information from police chiefs about how they have dealt with the issue, and reporting back to the Town Council before the moratorium expires.