NEW CASTLE, Colorado - The town council on Tuesday approved a moratorium lasting until October on recreational marijuana business applications, as well as any public use of marijuana, at least until October.
By then, the town expects to come up with ordinances related to the Nov. 6, 2012, passage of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution, which makes it legal for adults to grow, sell, buy and use the drug.
A special state task force has begun working on proposed new statutes governing the production, sale and use of pot under Amendment 64, and the results are due out by July.
"I think that we're probably doing the right thing," said council member Greg Russi, although he noted that Garfield County election precincts 13, 14 and 15, which encompass the town, all voted in favor of Amendment 64 by margins as high as 62 percent.
"I think it's pretty clear that it passed in New Castle," Russi said at Tuesday's council meeting, an indication that an outright prohibition by the town is not what the voters are hoping for.
As noted in the ordinance, the town in 2011 enacted "a comprehensive ban on the operation of medical marijuana businesses within the town, which remains in full force and effect."
In the case of Amendment 64, Russi told his fellow councilors, while the amendment contains four pages of text, only 27 words of that text speak to the fact that municipalities have the right to enact outright prohibitions against marijuana.
In addition to the moratorium, town attorney David McConaughy recommended the council consider modifying an existing ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone in New Castle to possess or smoke pot.
That ordinance, McConaughy explained, is now in conflict with state law.
Furthermore, McConaughy told the council, the town needs to begin figuring out where recreational marijuana businesses might best be located.
"If we're considering anything other than an outright ban, we need to have the planning commission look at the zoning," he told the council.
For example, he said there is an adult entertainment zone established on the south bank of the Colorado River, across from the main part of town, that might be a good location for pot stores.
McConaughy indicated that the town could wait a bit to begin work on the subject, perhaps until late summer, after the state regulatory framework for recreational marijuana is established.
In other action, the council:
• appointed Denise Scheberly to the town's Climate Action Advisory Committee.
• agreed to work with Garfield County to establish exactly who owns which part of the Colorado River Road (County Road 335) leading west from the bridge over I-70 that connects the north and south banks.
Town administrator Tom Baker, discussing the road, noted that the ownership, and consequent responsibility for upkeep of the road, has been unclear for some time.