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August 13, 2014
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Breckenridge cancels plans to put Main Street marijuana question to voters

The plan for Breckenridge to pose the marijuana-on-Main-Street question to voters in the upcoming Nov. 4 general election has gone up in smoke.

After having time to pore over the language, the council decided the proposed ordinance was just too confusing to be included on the ballot.

“You did a good job with the ordinance, it’s just our voters aren’t all lawyers,” Councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence told town attorney Tim Berry.

The rest of the council and mayor agreed. They decided instead to work on the ordinance and vote on it themselves. Several of the members were intent on trying to wrap up the process as soon as possible.

“I think we need to finish up on this subject,” said Mayor John Warner. “We’ve been talking about this since 2009. We’re not fixing potholes, we’re not paving roads, we’re just talking about G.D. marijuana.”

He hopes council can come to a resolution and a vote on the issue by early November.

Councilwoman Erin Gigliello echoed his sentiment, referencing Aspen and how they quickly settled the issue with little emotional debate.

“Aspen just embraced it and moved forward, and it’s caused no problems there,” Gigliello said. “That route looks really good right now. There is value in expediting this if we handle it responsibly and just move forward.”

Brian Rogers, a general manager with Breckenridge Cannabis Club (BCC), said the new decision by the council hasn’t changed things much from his perspective.

“We feel it’s not going to have much of an effect on us or the Airport Road stores,” Rogers said. “I am confident the council will allow us to stay. I also felt confident the voters would have voted for us to stay also.”

The entire debate of allowing recreational pot stores in the Downtown Overlay District, which includes Main Street and some surrounding environs, is of particular importance to BCC, the only shop still operating in the district.

After operating as a medicinal dispensary for four years on Main Street, BCC applied for and received a retail license in the wake of the passage of Amendment 64. In light of this result, the town council voted 4-1 late last year in favor for an ordinance banning the existence of retail pot stores in the downtown core. BCC, which is the only shop located in the district, was told they had to vacate by the end of their current lease, Sept. 1, 2014. Since that deadline was closing in fast, the council voted 7-0 on Tuesday night to extend their stay until at least Feb. 2, 2015, well after they settle the matter themselves.

Katherine Grimm, a spokesperson for the three retail dispensaries on Airport Road, told council they only supported a 60-day extension for BCC, which would end the first of the year, rather than the 90-day extension, that runs through February 2015.

The fairness issue has been hotly debated. As BCC has to wait for their fate, other licensed retail pot businesses aren’t allowed to move to a Main Street location.

“I’ll be the first to admit it’s not fair to allow one business on Main Street and all the rest can’t,” said Councilman Ben Brewer. “But what if this doesn’t get approved. Then how would it feel (to be BCC)?”

And, of course, the brand issue has also stayed central to the conversation. Some council members and residents feel allowing retail pot on Main Street takes away from the family-oriented appeal of the tourist town.

“I care deeply about our brand, but I don’t think this negatively affects our brand,” Lawrence said.

“We don’t know yet how it is affecting our brand,” Warner countered.

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The Summit Daily Updated Aug 13, 2014 09:31PM Published Aug 16, 2014 01:40PM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.