Pot on pause in Breckenridge
Ryan Summerlin February 20, 2013
Town officials and medical marijuana business owners are waiting to make the move into the hazy world of recreational marijuana sales until state lawmakers come forward with regulations on the newly legalized herb.
While most other Summit County towns have placed moratoriums on new marijuana businesses while waiting for the state to hand down new rules on the sales, Breckenridge is holding off on making any decisions for at least a few more weeks.
“It’s hard to say what the options are at this point,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “We’re going to wait and see what they do.”
Breckenridge has not received any applications for recreational marijuana business permits yet, perhaps because retailers, too, are on hold while lawmakers iron out the details of a new industry that may radically change their business model.
“I don’t know what to expect,” said Charlie Williams, owner of Breckenridge Alpenglow Botanicals, a medical marijuana center.
For current retailers, there is no shortage of logistical questions. Will members of the existing medical marijuana industry get the first shot at breaking into the recreational market? How will new business licenses and permits be issued? Will they be able to simply shift their current business model, or will they be required to start new companies with new gardens?
These questions and others are forcing many retailers to hold the status quo for now.
“Our basic plan at this point is to continue to improve our facilities and get ready to be whatever it is that we have to be,” Williams said. “That’s all we can do right now. It’s hurry up and wait.”
In the meantime, Williams said his business hasn’t suffered now that it is legal to use marijuana without a medical card, which he credits to the fact that the medical industry has managed to remain competitive with the black market. At the same time, Williams believes he offers a higher-quality product than many illegal growers in the area.
Ultimately, like almost every other business in Summit County, it’s snowfall that seems to make the difference between good times and bad.
“One of the many things that impacted us was just the lack of snow, because folks don’t have money to spend,” said Williams, who noted that his client base is almost entirely made up of local residents. “As goes the pocketbook of the locals, so go we.”
That may not always be the case, however. A statewide task force charged with advising state legislators on recreational marijuana policy recommended allowing marijuana tourism in Colorado, though limiting the amount of the herb available to out-of-state buyers.
A new framework for regulating marijuana is expected to become more clear by next month. At that time, Breckenridge officials expect to be ready to respond with local policies, a topic that has been discussed before in a town where voters decriminalized cannabis several years ago.
“In some ways it is easier because we’ve already been through this process,” Dykstra-DiLallo said. “Now we’re really just needing to decipher and look at what they’re doing at the state level.”
Voters in Colorado legalized limited amounts of marijuana for recreational use by adults over the age of 21 by passing Amendment 64 in November.