“Follow the leader” is one way to describe how Jefferson County and some municipalities in the county are handling the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Officials from the county, the city of Golden and the town of Morrison decided in 2013 to place temporary moratoriums on recreational marijuana sales. They want to see how other civic entities such as Denver and Edgewater handle the new state laws before moving forward with their own.
“There was a lot of discussion and, to be quite honest, we didn’t have a lot of information,” Don Rosier, Jefferson County District 3 commissioner, said. “We decided as a board to take a more reserved approach and that is to look at others that are going before us.”
Rosier said that the county’s planning and zoning department has been tasked with forming a committee of representatives from the marijuana industry, law enforcement, the school district, the health department and other groups. The plan is to form the committee by the end of January and put it to task by February.
The committee will present a research-based, evenly represented recommendation to the board of county commissioners on the direction the county should take, Rosier said.
“What I don’t want is to have them feel that the board of county commissioners is leading them one way or the other. I want them to feel that they are leading this among themselves,” he said.
Rosier said he has discussed the issue with local chambers of commerce and other groups and has been communicating with officials in Denver, Edgewater and Central City, where sales will be legal Jan. 1.
His biggest concern is making sure that from the start regulations in Jeffco are fair and manageable for both business owners and residents.
“I’d hate for individuals to invest dollars in this type of business venture and have it so confusing and hard to follow that they end up going out of business and losing money,” he said.
The committee will recommend a process or direction to the board regarding sales regulation, and Rosier said that could even include taking a ballot initiative to Jeffco voters.
The county’s moratorium applies only to the sale of recreational marijuana in its unincorporated areas, not to the home cultivation or personal use allowed by the new state law, and it ends in 2015, which Rosier considers a deadline.
“We have to take action on or before 2015. We didn’t put this ban in place with no end date,” he said. “We felt that was very fair.”
Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan announced Dec. 12 at the final City Council meeting of the year that it was time to begin looking for people to sit on that city’s Amendment 64 task force.
Golden’s recreational marijuana sales moratorium lasts until July 1, 2014.
“The goal is to work through the community process and try to identify the best course of action,” Steve Glueck, Golden community and economic director, said. He also said that the task force will represent a cross-section of the population.
Unlike Jefferson County, the city of Golden allows sale of medical marijuana, though it is home to only one dispensary.
While the town of Morrison will also be keeping an eye on how other municipalities regulate retail sales of recreational marijuana, its ban seems less likely to budge. Morrison has nothing on its agenda between now and its moratorium end date of January 2015, said Kara Zabilansky, Morrison town clerk and administrator.
“Somebody requested that they revisit it and they said they would,” she said, referring to a resident’s request of the town’s mayor and board of trustees.
Josie Klemaier: 303-954-2465, firstname.lastname@example.org