Breckenridge Town Council to vote on marijuana ordinance forcing downtown Cannabis Club to move
September 12, 2013
If you go …
The Breckenridge Town Council meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 150 Ski Hill Rd. A public forum will be held before the council votes on the ordinance licensing and regulating marijuana.
As a mother and daughter push open the sticky wooden door at 226 S. Main St. in Breckenridge, the scent of the ground-level spice store fills the air. The pair climbs the carpeted staircase and steps into a small attic room with a slanted ceiling barely leaving room to stand side-by-side. They lean on the long glass display case, pouring over the colorful wares.
However, Jessica Elson of Denver and her mother Barbara Selnick, a New Mexico resident, are not shopping for the usual Main Street merchandise. It's not shoes, totes or ski gear on display, but rather, medical marijuana products. Both women have medical marijuana licenses, and spent their recent visit to Breckenridge Cannabis Club learning more about local products. The case holds jars of bud with names like "Blue Dream" and "Sour Kush" next to candies, teas and lotions, while medicated sodas and gluten-free brownies line shelves in the refrigerator.
The Breckenridge Town Council will vote today on the second reading of an ordinance licensing and regulating medical marijuana businesses and retail marijuana establishments. The proposed ordinance, if passed, would force Breckenridge Cannabis Club — the only downtown medical marijuana dispensary — to vacate its current location after one year.
“Breck offers something for everyone,” she said. “Oktoberfest has adults drinking in public, and some people might not see that as a family friendly event. Some people see marijuana as a safe alternative to alcohol.”
This is a change from the first reading of the ordinance two weeks ago, which originally just stipulated expansion limitations on the downtown location. It now reads: "Medical marijuana businesses and retail marijuana establishments should all be limited in number, and should all be located outside of the Downtown Overlay District in order to protect, defend, and preserve the economic vitality of the Town."
Breckenridge Cannabis Club serves everyone from older patients buying creams for arthritis to snowboarders with multiple injuries seeking pain relief. Co-owner Caitlin McGuire said because the zoning laws surrounding marijuana are so strict, it would be difficult for her to find another location to move to in Breckenridge.
"This could potentially put us out of business," she said.
On Monday, the Cannabis Club helped a handful of regular customers over the course of an hour, but saw even more visitors, curious about the dispensary. Two truck drivers from Albuquerque learned retail sales would start in January, while a regular said he had already emailed his concerns to town council.
While the bill will not require the immediate closure of any currently licensed businesses, it would force McGuire to leave her location after her lease expires at the end of August 2014.
The ordinance states: "Any licensed premises that are lawfully located within the Downtown Overlay District as of this effective date of this Chapter may remain in such location until the first to occur of: the licensee loses legal right to possession of the licensed premises for any reason; or September 1, 2014."
Currently, most medical marijuana dispensaries in town are located on Airport Road.
"I don't think we've negatively affected downtown by being here," McGuire said. "If they do vote to ask us to leave, I worry that we won't have a place to go. This could be more detrimental than they're hoping."
McGuire said her location on Main Street does attract inquisitive passersby, which gives her the opportunity to educate more people about the new laws. She believes staying downtown would also help the local economy.
"It would attract a bunch of tourism and visitors," she said. "Just as a medical dispensary, we already have people come in who are curious about the industry and wish they could purchase from us."
Co-owner Brian Rogers said it would be difficult to sustain only medical sales without the retail aspect, since adults over 21 probably won't want to pay more just to renew their medical licenses if retail sales are available to everyone.
"I don't think it's the intent of the town council to put anyone out of business," he said.
McGuire said while she understands not everyone sees her business as a positive, the more people learn about the industry, the more likely they are to approve.
"Breck offers something for everyone," she said. "Oktoberfest has adults drinking in public, and some people might not see that as a family friendly event. Some people see marijuana as a safe alternative to alcohol."
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