(Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

“Magic pot of gold” doesn’t sway Golden marijuana task force

The economic benefits of recreational marijuana sales in cities like Edgewater and Breckenridge were not enough to win over members of Golden’s Amendment 64 task force.

“We thought that economics were not so compelling that it should be the reason why city council makes decisions regarding marijuana, that there were other community considerations,” Bill Fisher, former Golden city councilor and chair of the task force, said to Golden City Council at the April 24 regular meeting.

Golden's marijuana task force says economics shouldn't be motivator behind retail sales
Bill Fisher is a member of the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force for the city of Golden.

The task force has spent the past couple of months researching Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, as it has taken shape across the state in regards to economic impacts as well as effects on personal rights and freedoms, health and community and youth access and health.

The task force looked at tax records for shops and talked to business owners and said that while the money made might be viable for a smaller town like Edgewater, that doesn’t mean it would outweigh the enforcement and education costs in a place like Golden.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t make money at the end of the day, but it certainly isn’t some magic pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” Fisher said.

Related: Edgewater excited about rec pot, no complaints

Golden placed a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales that ends July 1. The task force was formed at the beginning of the year and was made of 10 members, including a local marijuana grower, Golden High School principal Gretchen Carter, representatives from Colorado School of Mines and Golden Chamber of Commerce, a psychologist and local attorneys, including Golden city attorney Bill Hayashi.

Fisher commended council for creating the task force instead of passing “knee-jerk” legislation. However, throughout his presentation, he said the group felt it’s a rapidly shifting issue, and whatever course city council decides to take, it should consider an ongoing conversation.

“You launched a great discussion about marijuana in our community,” he said. ” There’s so much to understand — it’s so much more of a complex issue than certainly I would have imagined.”

The task force’s recommendations are meant to “assist and inform City Council in their overall investigation, outreach and decision-making regarding implementation,” regarding recreational marijuana sales in the city, according to the report.

Related: Centennial: Shop elsewhere for recreational marijuana

The council will conduct a recreational marijuana study session May 8, when it will draft an ordinance that will be up for public hearing June 5, Mayor Marjorie Sloan said at the meeting.

The full 44-page report is posted online at cityofgolden.net/media/A64TaskForceReport.pdf.

The presentation came after the public comment session, during which a handful of residents from Golden and surrounding cities brought concerns of retail marijuana’s impact on youth that in their opinion outweigh possible financial benefits.

“Legalizing marijuana in Golden would not be a family-friendly decision,” Golden resident Marni Elliot told council.

Answering questions regarding these subjects, Fisher stressed that retail marijuana and manufacturing and the research are ongoing.

“A lot of people have said it does not look the way they thought it might look, whatever that means to them,” he said. “And so it’s hard for us to predict what is going to happen, given how close we are to the advent of retail sales.”

Sloan commended the group for its work and acknowledged the challenge they had.

“As far as the report goes, it’s a remarkable piece,” she said. “It’s hard to write a report when your state is the laboratory for an evolving issue and every day when you go to the news, there’s something new on it.”

Josie Klemaier: 303-954-2465, jklemaier@denverpost.com

This story was first published on DenverPost.com