Council to start reviewing pot regulations |

Council to start reviewing pot regulations

Mayor Mike Gamba
Staff Photo |

Glenwood Springs Mayor Mike Gamba expects to hear from a sizeable crowd of people at the regular City Council meeting tonight regarding concerns about the number of new retail marijuana shops and related facilities that are now being proposed within city limits.

So much so, based on the e-mails, phone calls and stops on the street Gamba said he has personally gotten over the last couple of weeks, that he decided to have it added to the formal agenda.

“There is a lot of concern in the community right now,” he said. “I think it’s very important for people to be allowed to speak to council so that we can understand those concerns and determine whether we should modify our regulations with respect to anything.”

As a preface to having that discussion, though, the mayor advised that there won’t be an “instantaneous response” from council. And the current applications now under review are out of council’s hands.

Applications for two new downtown retail marijuana shops, one with an attached edibles manufacturing kitchen to be located next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue theater, were heard last week by the city’s licensing officer, Angela Roff. She is expected to render her decisions sometime in the next month.

Those proposals are being considered under the rules and regulations currently on the city’s books, which were adopted in late 2013 just ahead of Colorado officially allowing retail marijuana sales in January 2014 under the voter-approved Amendment 64.

Any changes to those regulations, which now require such things at 500 feet separation between marijuana establishments and K-12 schools, and 325 feet between marijuana businesses, would have to be formally drafted and set for public hearing.

Last week’s license hearings for the Green Dragon’s planned retail store and marijuana edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave., and another for the so-called Recreational Releaf dispensary at 404 10th St., prompted the biggest turnout so far for any marijuana license hearing in Glenwood Springs.

The three existing retail recreational establishments, Greenwerkz on South Glen Avenue, the Green Joint at 11th and Grand, and the Green Dragon’s Devereux Road location, were heard and approved with little opposition.

“Colorado is the first state to really look at regulating and dealing with these issues,” Gamba said. “We as a council took a first effort at what these regulations should be for our city.

“I don’t know if it’s been a complete disaster, but there are some legitimate concerns, and to the extent we can address that it is our duty to do so,” he said.

Newly elected Councilwoman Kathryn Trauger said it’s not surprising that it took an application for a new marijuana store next to one of the city’s main tourist attractions, the Vaudeville Revue, to bring things to a head.

“Maybe it’s good that this is happening now,” said Trauger, who along with fellow new elected Councilman Steve Davis met with residents in the Axtell Park neighborhood at 11th and Cooper to discuss enforcement issues in that part of town.

The primary concern there is that, by citizen accounts, customers are often seen leaving the nearby marijuana shop and head straight for the park or their parked vehicles to smoke marijuana. Smoking or consuming marijuana in other forms in public is illegal under state and local laws.

But the issue comes down to enforcement, Trauger said.

She noted that Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson also attended the neighborhood meeting, and said his officers simply can’t keep up with all the violations that are occurring regarding public consumption.

Trauger sat on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission when the current marijuana zoning regulations were being discussed.

“I really thought then, and I still do, that [the marijuana industry] will regulate itself, and the market will drive the demand,” she said. “But that can take awhile, and in the meantime what we have in place could cause some problems.”

The majority of the current City Council has been generally supportive of allowing a regulated medical and recreational marijuana trade in Glenwood Springs, based mostly on the fact that more than 65 percent of the city’s voters supported Amendment 64 when it was on the statewide ballot in November 2012.

That’s not likely to change, Trauger said.

“I don’t think a moratorium, or completely revisiting whether to allow this at all is something we will do,” she said.

Tonight’s Glenwood City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 101 W. Eighth St. The marijuana discussion is listed last on the agenda after a pair of downtown development review hearings.

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