CASTLE ROCK - Before any marijuana stores open, Douglas County approved a ban on commercial operations for the drug that's now legal for recreational use in Colorado.
State officials are still trying to figure out how to regulate the new industry, and shops are not expected to open until at least January 2014. But Douglas County's ban takes effect Thursday.
The Denver Post reports (http://goo.gl/PPa2c) that the county is the first in the state to approve a ban on pot stores and grow operations. Weld County could follow suit next month, the newspaper reported. But other municipalities may wait to see how the state decides to regulate the drug before deciding to ban marijuana business operations, which they have authority to do under the new law.
Colorado's marijuana measure, which allows adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of pot, was approved with 55 percent of the vote last month, and it's now part of the state constitution. In Douglas County, however, voters rejected the constitutional amendment with 54 percent of the vote, and they have voted against three other marijuana measures in the last 12 years.
"These four votes made it easier for the county commissioners to act in the public interest," said county spokeswoman Wendy Holmes.
Douglas County's ban would impact only pot stores and commercial growing operations, not personal use of the drug, which would still be allowed. People would also still be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use, like the law states.
Holmes said county commissioners considered the revenue potential of having pot stores, but decided a ban was better.
"That's a revenue source that we're not interested in having here," she said.
The Colorado Department of Revenue is expected to have rules set for the industry by July 1. An attorney for Colorado Municipal League said many other cities and counties are likely to wait until then to decide whether to enact bans similar to Douglas County.
"We're sort of waiting for July 1 to see where we are," said attorney Rachel Allen.
A 24-member task force appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper started work last week on figuring out how to regulate the drug. They have five more meetings before they make recommendations to the governor.