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Trustees continue pot talks

By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Reporter

Carbondale trustees are still a few hits away from putting a fine point on the town’s pot regulations, but they are starting to take shape.

At Tuesday night’s work session, trustees indicated they’ll allow retail outlets to cook and sell products such as marijuana-laced brownies, but to do so will probably require a special use permit. The town might establish zone-district “overlays” to determine where retail marijuana stores can and can’t operate. The trustees decided to measure minimum-allowed distances from pot shops to schools as the public would travel them, rather than as the crow flies. The trustees also instructed staff to draft a memo to address the issue of whether to ask voters to put a 5 percent additional sales tax on legally-sold marijuana.

The trustees are plowing through those issues and more, as the state of Colorado prepares to start accepting retail marijuana outlet license applications on Oct. 1. On Jan. 1, 2014, it will become legal under state law to sell small amounts of marijuana after Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 last November. Carbondale voters approved Amendment 64 in all three precincts.

Under Amendment 64, cities, towns and counties have the option of not allowing retail marijuana outlets. Unlike some Garfield County town councils, the Carbondale Board of Trustees spent little time several weeks ago discussing whether to allow pot shops. Their attention quickly turned to a memo from the Colorado Municipal League that included 16 points for towns and counties to consider when drafting marijuana regulations. The points included: Whether to impose special restrictions on signs and advertising, whether to mandate public hearings for license applications and require that applicants address “needs and desires” of the community in order to obtain a license.

The trustees are reviewing a 64-page report from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division titled “Emergency Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code” and Denver’s proposed marijuana regulations. They also hired attorney Alison Eastley to assist town attorney Mark Hamilton in guiding them through the complicated process.

In other news from Tuesday night’s work session:

• The trustees conducted a review of town manager Jay Harrington and decided to extend to him another two-year contract with a 5 percent raise;

• Heard a proposal from the Aspen-based GrassRoots TV that would designate GrassRoots as Carbondale’s public access provider on Comcast. The trustees took no action;

• Discussed daycare issues with several daycare providers.