(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Broomfield council likely will extend marijuana business ban to 2017

Broomfield City Council is poised to extend a ban on retail marijuana businesses for another two years by renewing an existing ban, originally set to expire in 2015.

At a study session Tuesday, council members continued their ongoing conversation on how to treat marijuana-related businesses, such as grow operations, testing facilities, product and manufacturing facilities and retail outlets. Those businesses are banned in Broomfield through January 2015, but council likely will vote to extend the ban through sometime in 2017.

Council’s consideration of the ban comes after several discussions about whether an extension of the ban would help keep drugs away from underage users and address concerns from residents who don’t want retail businesses near schools or other community spaces.

At an April study session, council members discussed the possibility of extending the ban, but at Tuesday’s study session, they appeared much more certain about voting on the extension.

Extending the ban would give Broomfield time to see how other cities have handled their retail marijuana business decisions and observe future state rules, problems and solutions surrounding recreational marijuana, said Mayor Pro Tem Greg Stokes.

With a ban extension, “we don’t have to mess with logistics … I’d rather our staff not waste taxpayers money doing that,” he said.

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No decisions were made Tuesday, but council members said the study session was meant to explore options on how Broomfield should handle marijuana businesses once the two-year prohibition, first enacted in 2013, sunsets on Jan. 31.

No date has been set for when council would vote on the ban extension.

When council first enacted the marijuana business ban in 2013, it indicated voters likely would have the last say on the future of the pot industry in Broomfield. Yet the ordinance did not explicitly guarantee the issue would land on the 2014 ballot — either council or voters have to officially ask for a ballot initiative.

“If council passes (an ordinance on marijuana) and voters were unhappy, they could bring that to the ballot,” said Erika Delaney Lew, assistant city and county attorney.

Council members said they saw the study session as an ongoing discussion on how to best treat marijuana business policy in Broomfield.

State voters in November 2012 approved Amendment 64, which makes marijuana legal for people older than 21. In Broomfield, 53.14 percent of voters were in favor of Amendment 64.

Amendment 64 required local governments to adopt a licensing method for marijuana businesses or ban the businesses outright.

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The meeting on Tuesday also addressed updating Broomfield’s municipal code on “open and public use” of marijuana. The public use of weed is not allowed by Amendment 64, and council asked that municipal code be updated to better explain those rules, said Bill Tuthill, Broomfield city and county attorney.

A proposed ordinance, which council will vote on at a later date, would clarify what “open and public” means in Broomfield, Tuthill said.

Tuthill said the definition of “private” would mean any place where the public is not entitled to go. For example, a Girl Scout selling cookies is allowed to go to someone’s front porch, but is not entitled to go into a resident’s back yard, enter their garage or go inside someone’s house as a member of the public, he said.

“If you are on balcony, or in your garage with door open, you’re privately consuming” marijuana, he said.

The public use ordinance also would clarify that use and possession of marijuana is illegal for people under 21 in Broomfield and throughout the state, unless they are on a medical marijuana registry, Tuthill said.

Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or quinnm@broomfieldenterprise.com

This story was first published on DenverPost.com