A marijuana plant at a Colorado growhouse.

Jefferson County task force calls for ban on marijuana businesses

JEFFERSON COUNTY — The Jefferson County Task Force on Marijuana is recommending that the Board of Commissioners not allow any marijuana businesses in unincorporated Jeffco, but the commissioners want more time to study the issue.

The volunteer task force released its 134-page report and presented it to the board Tuesday. The recommendation read that the licensing of marijuana establishments is “not consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the citizens of Jefferson County.”

Jefferson County placed a moratorium on marijuana businesses in July 2013 after the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012. That moratorium is set to expire Feb. 1, 2015 unless more action is taken. The county also voted in April to prohibit marijuana clubs and to limit cultivation.

“I don’t have enough data to make a decision,” Commissioner Don Rosier said as the meeting wrapped up Tuesday.

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The task force met eight times since being established in April and studied data regarding impacts on public safety, public health, government and business. The members then voted on whether to “opt in” or “opt out” on marijuana. Eight of the members voted to opt out, two voted to opt in and one abstained.

The commissioners heard arguments from both sides, with Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group stating that the county should allow marijuana establishments. He said that county residents will have access to retail marijuana by either going to Denver or cities in Jefferson County that already allow retail pot businesses. By opting out, the county won’t benefit from the tax revenue and the jobs the industry can create.

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Dr. Mark Johnson, director of the county’s health department, told the commissioners that studies have shown that smoking any substance is harmful and should not be allowed. He added that the county should take more time with the process.

“It would be smart to hold off until we can get better data,” Johnson said. “It’s all over the place.”

The commissioners will schedule another meeting with members of the task force within the next few weeks to ask more questions before deciding how to proceed.

Joe Vaccarelli: 303-954-2396, jvaccarelli@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joe_vacc

This story was first published on DenverPost.com