Dillon pumps brakes on retail marijuana licenses after issuing three
Dillon is putting marijuana licenses on hold, according to a moratorium passed on Tuesday. With a 6-1 vote, the town will suspend the acceptance of further applications for retail marijuana licenses through September of 2016.
The moratorium is based on a similar one that was put in place six months ago after Dillon’s first retail dispensary opened and was set to expire this September. Council members’ primary concern was that with other Summit County towns having reached the cap for dispensaries, Dillon would be one of the last remaining towns with space for new stores.
With one dispensary in Silverthorne, two in Frisco and four in Breckenridge, town manager Tom Breslin said, “For a smaller community, we’re gonna have as many as the biggest community.”
As it stands now, the town currently has one dispensary, Alpenglow Premium Cannabis, with two set to open on Little Beaver Trail this year: Denver-based chain Native Roots and Colorado Springs-based Altitude Organic Medicine. Both businesses obtained retail licenses prior to the moratorium and are approved to open soon.
Although the moratorium is still in place, town engineer Dan Burroughs said he sees someone inquire about a retail marijuana license at least once a month.
“How much is enough, you know? We only have two liquor stores, and we have three marijuana stores,” he said. “I’m not sure the market would support more than that.”
He added that, with current restrictions limiting dispensaries from opening within 300 feet of residential areas, school and parks, there would be 26 remaining lots available in the Dillon Ridge Marketplace and along Little Beaver Trail.
The council’s vote on Tuesday night was nearly unanimous, with one dissenting vote from Councilman Erik Jacobsen.
“I think people are getting a little wound up on the marijuana stuff,” he said. “We should just let the market go like it should.”
He noted that the town conducted an informal survey, calling several businesses around Alpenglow to see if they noticed any disruption since the dispensary opened last year.
“Everybody was so concerned that when one (dispensary) was put next to the Dillon Dam Brewery. Everyone was worried that it was going kill business, and we didn’t see any evidence of that at all,” he said. “We surveyed some of the businesses around there, and nobody seemed to care.”
Among the comments listed for the businesses, a few had hardly noticed the store and didn’t even know where it was. One hotel reported a complaint with the smell of smoke, but a nearby grocery store saw a positive effect, as the owners often went there for lunch.
“We don’t want Dillon to be thought of as the pot capital, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” Jacobsen said. “There have been no issues at all — this has all been unbelievably smooth.
“A lot of thought has been put into this decision,” he added. “I just don’t think Dillon needs to go too far into this.”
Pumping the brakes
Police chief Mark Heminghous reported no problems related to the dispensary in town. While Dillon allocated additional time and resources to allow officers more enforcement since the dispensary opened, he noted that the added police time has been minimal.
Throughout the several-month duration of these discussions, no citizens weighed in with opinions either for or against the moratorium. Mayor Pro-Tem Louis Skowyra noted that more than 70 percent of Dillon voters were in favor of Amendment 64 — that is, for the legalization of marijuana.
“There haven’t been any problems with this business. They’ve been terrific business owners in Dillon,” he said of the town’s sole dispensary.
Still, he chose to support the moratorium, as he saw it as a cautious approach to a budding industry.
“We are not slamming the door on this industry in Dillon,” he said. “This is a way for us to pump the brakes and put a breather on this whole process.”
He added that while his long-term preference would be to allow the market to govern the number of dispensaries in Dillon, for now, the town will have a test run with three dispensaries.
“I don’t like the idea of in first year of legal marijuana in Dillon having 10 shops,” Skowyra said. “This gives us a year to see how things shake out and how things settle.”
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