Council OKs pot reg revisions
There will be no limit on pot shops based on population in Glenwood Springs.
Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday voted to approve on first reading revisions to the municipal code regarding the marijuana industry in regards to buffers but opted to scrap the suggested limit of one retail shop per 1,000 residents.
Council voted 6-1 in favor, with Mayor Jonathan Godes opposed.
The regulations currently dictate that a new shop must be 900 feet from other pot shops and 500 feet from schools. The revisions change the buffers to 1,000 feet from either and added to that list parks and mental health and drug treatment facilities.
There is currently no maximum number of pot shops allowed in the city.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Oct. 27 to recommend approval of the revisions, and city staff also recommended approval to council at this meeting.
No councilors spoke against the proposed buffers, and the discussion focused on how much regulation of marijuana is appropriate.
Councilor Steve Davis wondered why the city limits pot shops when it doesn’t limit ice cream shops.
“I’ve got to wave the free enterprise flag. … Why do you think it’s appropriate to limit any kind of business in town?” he asked.
Councilor Tony Hershey said that the passage of Amendment 64 granted broad authority to regulate marijuana uses.
“There is not a more regulated business in the state of Colorado than marijuana. … It is illegal under federal law. It’s not like any other business, and I think it should be treated not like any other business,” he said.
Councilor Charlie Willman asked if pot shops have to demonstrate a need in the community, as is done for liquor stores.
Senior planner Trent Hyatt said that they do not.
Willman said that he would prefer to regulate the number of pot shops by that standard than an “arbitrary number.”
He made a motion to approve the revisions but to remove the density limit and add in the neighborhood need requirement used by liquor stores. Davis seconded.
Godes didn’t see why marijuana should be regulated differently than alcohol.
“I think we should treat the buffers the same, treat everything similar, so I’m not going to support anything that treats [marijuana] any different than alcohol,” he said.
He said if council passes buffers for pot shops it should talk about buffers for liquor stores as well.
Hershey disagreed, reiterating that pot is illegal federally and in several states.
“I don’t like when we equate [pot shops] with liquor stores, because they’re not liquor stores,” he said.
Green Joint owner Daniel Sullivan reiterated his statement made at a P&Z meeting in late August that “enough is enough.
“[We should] keep those of us that were involved from the very beginning having a fair and level playing field,” he said.
Davis did not agree.
“I support all the changes except for the number. … All [the limit] does is increase the value of their business because they got their foot in the door,” he said.
Councilor Shelley Kaup said that the free market would take care of the number of shops.
“I have a hard time with that limit based on population,” she said.
Davis said he’s not interested in more pot shops but less interested in invasive government.
“Personally [I think] there’s plenty of pot shops in this town, and I’d hate to see any more in here, but I don’t like to see big government … controlling business,” he said.
Councilor Paula Stepp said the product is more relevant than the free market.
“I understand the free market part of that, but we still need to consider the part of what we’re making available to the community,” she said. She was not opposed to the density limit.
At the urging of Kaup, Willman amended his motion to approve the buffers, remove the density limit, and leave out the neighborhood need requirement. Davis seconded again.
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