Summit County towns punt on pot regulations
January 12, 2013
When voters passed Amendment 64 in November, they gave adults over the age of 21 the right to possess, consume and grow recreational marijuana, but it’s local governments that have the final say.
The amendment gives all local municipalities the option to set individual regulations or to ban the drug all together.
In Summit County, four towns are waiting until state lawmakers, charged with developing a legal framework for the sale, taxation and regulation of marijuana this year, begin making decisions to say anything at all.
“We decided to take a wait and see attitude,” Frisco Town Councilman Kent Willis said. “We really want to see what the state regulations are going to be before we do anything further with our regulations.”
Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Dillon are all taking similar tracks, although the Dillon Town Council is planning to discuss the issue at its Feb. 19 work session.
In Breckenridge, where votes decriminalized marijuana several years ago, officials have not begun researching possible regulations, but say they likely have a head start.
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“I do feel like we are ahead of the rest of the state, just because we’ve already gone through what they’re going through,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim DiLallo said. “We feel like we’re at least a little bit farther ahead and that we can afford to sit and wait patiently until the state decides what they’re going to do.”
Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Frisco have some experience working with marijuana regulations following several years of policymaking for medical marijuana distribution. Breckenridge implemented local laws regulating the smell, location and number of dispensaries in town and both Breckenridge and Frisco voters approved an excise tax on the substance last year.
Amendment 64 made it legal for adults older than 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and to grow as many as six plants in their homes. But driving while under the influence of marijuana remains illegal and smoking or otherwise using the drug in public will not be allowed.
Individuals growing marijuana in their homes will be permitted to have the results of their harvests, which could exceed an ounce, in their homes or on their property. In public, people will only be able to legally have 1 ounce on their person or in their cars.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but President Barack Obama has said his government will not go after recreational marijuana users in Colorado.
Amendment 64 gives state lawmakers and local governments a year to react to the new law. The Legislature will need to develop regulations for the sale of industrial hemp, the licensure of marijuana businesses and the formulation of a ballot question asking voters to approve an excise tax on the product.
The Denver Post reporting appears in this story.