Carbondale trustees to talk pot; and talk some more

John Colson
Post Independent staff

CARBONDALE — The board of trustees here will be talking about retail marijuana for “about two and a half hours” tonight, according to Town Manager Jay Harrington, including a review of applicable state laws, consideration of draft local regulations and of a ballot question to set tax rates for retail sales of the weed.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave.

“It should be an interesting meeting,” commented Harrington.

As a springboard for the discussion, the board will look at a matrix detailing “Thirty-nine key decision points” that has been taken up by a special committee for the Denver City Council as a kind of template for Carbondale. The committee apparently began meeting on Aug. 12 and is to come up with final recommendations for the Denver City Council no later than Sept. 23.

The matrix includes questions such as whether the town wants to permit existing medical marijuana shops to undergo “outright conversion” to retail stores, “with no option for co-location [side-by-side but with separate entrances] or coterminous [completely shared space] licensed premises.”

According to a document in the council’s packet, the drafting committee already has proposed allowing all three kinds of conversions within the Denver city limits.

Other recommendations on the Denver matrix include one that the city conduct a thorough public review process for conversion of existing medical marijuana centers to retail shops; and to defer until Jan. 1. 2016, any consideration of applications for completely new retail pot shops that do not involve conversion.

Other issues covered such matters as where retail pot shops should be allowed in Denver, what type of allowances should be made for cultivation operations, testing facilities and manufacturing of edibles, all of which became legal under Amendment 64 to the state constitution last year.

The trustees’ packet for tonight’s meeting also contains a memo on proposed changes to the town codes to accommodate retail marijuana outlets, including the idea of local taxation of such businesses.

A “rough draft” of possible ballot language for Carbondale voters follows earlier conclusions by the trustees that Carbondale should assess both a sales tax and an “excise tax” on the marijuana industry.

Town attorney Mark Hamilton, in the memo to the trustees following directions Hamilton received at earlier meetings, lays out a 5 percent sales tax and a 5 percent excise tax. The sales tax would be imposed on retail marijuana and related products, whereas the excise tax would be levied when a retail pot cultivation facility first sells or transfers unprocessed pot to a retail shop, or to a manufacturing facility or another cultivation facility.

The trustees’ packet also contains letters from concerned citizens, primarily from local moms urging the town to strictly limit exposure of children to the retail pot shops and related businesses, mostly by restricting the number of shops and where they will be permitted.

“Yes, the town voted overwhelmingly to legalize it, so now as a town in initial stages of this process, let’s be cautious in moving forward and not be bullied into allowing freedoms we may regret later,” wrote Danika Davis, a mother of two young children living in Carbondale.

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