by Rick Langenberg:
n a slight deviation from the reefer stand of neighboring jurisdictions, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees has declined to outlaw retail marijuana stores in their community.
But on the other hand, they haven’t exactly said ‘yes’ either, with at least one leader conceding that the reality of any pot store setting up shop in GMF is next to impossible.
In a compromise move, the trustees agreed to study the prospects of initiating a lengthy moratorium period to further evaluate their options.
“We are-locked of out of it anywhere,” commented Trustee Ralph LoCascio, in describing the difficulty for any retail marijuana business to open its doors in GMF, with state restrictions regarding where these outlets can be located. “It is kind of a moot point. We can’t do it anyway.”
The trustee was referring to restrictions that outlaw marijuana shops next to parks, schools and churches.
That said, LoCascio and several trustees, along with a few residents, stated they supported the idea of having retail marijuana shops in lieu of the support for Amendment 64. “I think it is premature,” said Trustee and former mayor Tyler Stevens, in describing action to prohibit these businesses. “I see it as a potential opportunity. We are foolish to shut the door.”
Stevens’ comments were mirrored by several local residents and business operators, who waved the pro-reefer flag. More than anything, they didn’t understand banning potential businesses that could bring the town more money. “What is wrong with that?” questioned Kim Wart, owner of the Midland Rails Liquor store.
Similar views were echoed by Jeremiah Nelson, who described marijuana as a much safer drug than alcohol. “You can’t overdose on it,” said Nelson. And like the Midland Liquors owner, he cited the advantages of taking in more money.
Another resident noted that marijuana retail shops could serve as a good fit, if they are regulated properly.
But at the same time, several trustees were reluctant to signal a green light for marijuana outlets.
Trustee Howard Price explained that the proposed ban wouldn’t prohibit adults from using a limited amount of marijuana. “This doesn’t mean you can’t smoke grass in Green Mountain Falls,” said Price, in describing the town’s proposed marijuana ban ordinance.
A few trustees, though, wanted to know about the town’s choices. The board clearly appeared uncomfortable with adopting an all-out prohibition.
City attorney Lisa Tormoen Hickey, however, informed the board it had limited options. In essence, she told the trustees that they would have to either ban retail marijuana shops or adopt regulations governing their use. But at least for the next couple of months, she believes it’s okay to impose a moratorium, which bans any marijuana operator from setting up shop, until the town compiles detailed rules. However, the attorney asked the board to delay any formal action until its next meeting.
With last week’s action, Green Mountain Falls may emerge as one of the few towns in the area not to join the anti-marijuana bandwagon. Reefer bans, impacting the establishment of future cannabis businesses, have already been approved by the El Paso and Teller County commissioners, the Cripple Creek, Victor and Woodland Park city councils and a growing number of municipalities throughout Colorado. However, votes on these bans have been getting closer.