Marijuana: Boulder rejects pot shop ban, but councilman urges caution moving forward
Original post, 11:13 a.m. December 4: Boulder County is perceived to be a marijuana-friendly place, but Boulder City Council actively opposed Amendment 64. Now, in the wake of A64's passage, the council will consider a recommended moratorium on retail pot shops allowed under the measure (see the document below), with conversation about allowing such outlets potentially put off until the fourth quarter of 2014. Why?
According to senior assistant city attorney Kathy Haddock, who'll co-deliver a presentation about Amendment 64 code impacts with Boulder City Attorney Tom Carr at tonight's city council meeting, slated to start at 6 p.m tonight., the move "isn't a ban, and it's not about trying to go against the voters. It's totally about regulatory issues and uncertainty about where we're going to be, and the role that local governments are going to play in the licensing process."
The document accompanying this message in this evening's Boulder City Council agenda offers the following list of "uncertainties" left by A64's approval:
Boulder City Council.
• Will the federal government sue to enjoin implementation?Since the answers to these questions remain elusive thus far, Carr and Haddock argue in favor of a moratorium for reasons they outline in their report's "analysis" segment. It reads:
• If the federal government is going to take action, will it wait until after the state adopts implementing legislation as it did in challenging Arizona's immigration laws?
• Will the justice department take criminal action against businesses?
• What affect will Amendment 64 have on established medical marijuana businesses?
• Within the regulatory scheme specified in Amendment 64, what, if any, authority will the state delegate to local governments for local licensing and enforcement?
• Will the state adequately fund whatever law it adopts so that there is review of licensing applications and enforcement of violations?
• What effect will recreational marijuana businesses have on medical marijuana businesses?
The city has extensive experience regulating medical marijuana businesses. It appears likely that many of the same issues will be raised by recreational marijuana businesses. In the case of medical marijuana businesses, the state has not yet fully funded or implemented a licensing program or enforcement of its laws. Virtually all of the regulatory work and enforcement has been left to local governments. Without a ban, because legislation could take until May, 2013, and regulations are not required to be adopted until July 1, 2013, staff would have to commence work on changes to the land use code to allow recreational medical marijuana businesses before knowing what the state law was going to be. While staff was successful at adopting and implementing a licensing program for medical marijuana prior to the state adopting its law or issuing licenses, the Medical Marijuana Amendment to the Colorado Constitution did not restrict the city from implementing licensing laws and did not include a declaration of statewide concern. It also took an enormous amount of effort by city staff across several departments and hiring temporary employees to reach the current level of compliant, inspected and licensed businesses.Given these factors, the document recommends "that council pass an ordinance banning recreational marijuana businesses for an interim period. Council should revisit this issue when some of the answers to the questions listed above have been resolved. Staff recommends that this be scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014. This would allow approximately eighteen months after the state regulations are to go into effect in July 2013. This would give ample time to review the state process and draft potential land use or, if necessary, licensing regulations."
This logic doesn't ring true to a number of Amendment 64 proponents.
Continue to read more about a proposed moratorium against marijuana shops in Boulder.