Summit County Commissioners vote ‘in’ on Amendment 64
Ryan Summerlin April 10, 2013
BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County Commissioners decided unanimously Tuesday not to “opt out” of Amendment 64’s legalization of recreational marijuana use and sales, citing the overwhelming support for the measure among local voters in November.
“We’re in,” Commissioner Thomas Davidson said at a county meeting.
The voter-approved measure allows adults over the age of 21 to possess and consume less than 1 ounce of marijuana, but leaves local governments the option to override the measure and keep the use and sale of marijuana illegal within their jurisdictions.
In Summit County, the measure won with a landslide 77 percent of the vote.
“Clearly we won’t want to opt out because our voters have spoken loud and clear,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.
Allowing marijuana use and sales meant the county had the option to levy a local excise tax on sales of the drug, or to join in on a share of a statewide tax. The commissioners seemed to lean towards participating in the statewide tax, but said it likely wouldn’t matter, as there has never been a medical marijuana retail center or even an application for one in unincorporated Summit County.
“We have how many medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Summit County? We have how many people that have ever applied for a license?” Davidson said. “I think that question is sort of moot for us.”
There are very few locations outside the local towns where zoning would permit a marijuana retailer to open shop and even fewer where that business would do well.
The town governments in Summit County have punted on the Amendment 64 question.
Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne all approved temporary moratoriums on recreational marijuana businesses and retailers through the fall, when state lawmakers are supposed to put forward a regulatory framework for commercial sales.
“Until the state decides on what is going to be legal and what is not, I think we’d rather err on being cautious,” Frisco town manager Bill Efting said. “The idea is, protect the town and protect the people until we know what the state is going to come out with. It’s just playing defense.”
Breckenridge has taken a similar wait-and-see attitude toward regulating recreational marijuana, but hasn’t yet discussed the matter publicly or implemented any kind of moratorium on the businesses.
Voters decriminalized marijuana in Breckenridge several years ago.
There are a handful of medical marijuana businesses currently operating in Breckenridge. Some of the owners say they’re playing a wait-and-see game as well to understand how legalization will impact their business model.
Summit Daily News editor Ben Trollinger contributed to the reporting of this story.