New Castle Town Council wants to know how people feel about pot |

New Castle Town Council wants to know how people feel about pot

NEW CASTLE — The town council here has concluded, after a brief debate, that they need to hear from the public before deciding whether to ban the sale of recreational marijuana within town limits.

Toward that end, the council on Tuesday night scheduled a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission in early June, to hear whether the public wants the council to develop a set of ordinances to regulate retail sellers of pot, and to establish zone districts where pot shops can do business.

If the public seems opposed to the sale of pot at commercial stores in town, as permitted under Amendment 64 of the Colorado Constitution, the council can then pass a law prohibiting the sale of recreational marijuana by retailers in town.

Colorado’s voters in 2012 overwhelmingly approved the amendment, making this one of two states (Washington is the other) where marijuana production, sale and use is legal for adults.

Town attorney David McConaughy advised the council that, in previous council discussions, there had not seemed to be a majority preference for a ban.

“Nobody had us draft legislation to ban it outright,” McConaughy told the council members.

On Tuesday, he told the council that the new state law requires that local regulations for recreational marijuana sales must be in place by Oct. 1, which is the date that prospective sellers will be able to submit applications to the towns or counties where they hope to do business.

Two of those on council, Bob Gordon and Bruce Leland, asked a series of questions that prompted town administrator Tom Baker to suggest they seemed to want a discussion at the council level before any other hearings, to determine if the council is open to having retail marijuana business in New Castle.

“I don’t want planning and zoning and the public to go to all this work, then give it to us and have us turned it back,” Leland said at one point.

Leland later agreed with others on the council that it makes sense to hold the P&Z hearing first, to determine the public’s sentiments on the issue.

As things now stand, there is to be an initial hearing in June to gauge public sentiment on the issue, followed by a second hearing in July (if needed) to debate the question of which zone districts might be appropriate for the pot shops.

Then, the issue would go to the town council for final consideration.

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