Petition aims to end Main Street marijuana in Breckenridge
Breckenridge Town Council and staff have worked the past couple of months ironing out details of a proposed ordinance that would allow retail marijuana shops to operate in the town’s core.
Meanwhile, a Breckenridge resident opposed to the idea has started an online petition in an attempt to halt the proposed law. About two weeks ago, Ken Bell created it on http://www.ipetitions.com.
“Proponents of this petition believe this direction will result in substantially more risk than reward for the local community,” Bell said in explaining why marijuana businesses should not operate on Main Street. “Primary risks center on a material change away from a family-friendly resort destination and place of residence and the corresponding long-term adverse effects on the local economy.”
Bell said the petition is not an attempt to close down all pot shops in Breckenridge, just any that happen to be located in the downtown core.
At this point the only marijuana shop downtown is Breckenridge Cannabis Club, which has been in its current location for five years. There are four more shops in town that sell medical or recreational marijuana, or both, but they are all cloistered on Airport Road.
The petition is open to signees who have no legal local vote, including Breckenridge residents, second-home owners, “frequent visitors” and children at least 10 years old.
“Registered voter is not required,” reads the petition. The intent is to “give a voice” to those who can’t vote on the issue, the site says.
The online petition started with a goal of 1,000 electronic signatures.
Chris Renner, the owner and founder of Pinnacle Mountain Homes, a custom-home builder based in Breckenridge, was one of the 802 petition signees as of Tuesday, Sept. 9. Renner also was a founder and former board member of The Peak School, a private middle and high school in Frisco.
“I thank you Ken Bell for starting this petition!” Renner commented.
Many who support the petition believe marijuana will change the character of the town.
“Do you know how to ruin an idyllic and family-friendly mountain town?” commented Peter Ellefson, a resident and registered voter in Breckenridge. “Answer: Turn the decision-making over to the Breckenridge Town Council regarding retail marijuana shops on Main Street in Breckenridge. Permitting retail marijuana shops on Main Street in Breckenridge is a terrible idea. The move to permit retail marijuana shops on Main Street in Breckenridge appears to be founded in pure greed. If approved, this decision will forever change the character of Breckenridge. We’ll see panhandlers just like in Boulder and Berkeley. Breckenridge is not Boulder or Berkeley. Breckenridge does not need anymore retail marijuana shops. Terrible idea….”
Rick Bunchman echoed that sentiment.
“I am not in favor of anymore marijuana shops on Main Street,” Bunchman wrote. “We are changing the character of this town in a bad way! I own retail spaces on Main Street and would never rent to a marijuana operator regardless of the high paying rent they might offer!”
The petition carries no legal ramifications, but it could affect council opinion, which is locked in a narrow 4-3 vote to allow marijuana shops to operate on Main Street as long as they follow certain restrictions.
Earlier this summer, because of the narrow vote, the council considered turning the issue over to Breckenridge voters in the November election. But because the legal language of the proposed ordinance was complicated, council members ultimately decided to vote on the matter themselves.
At the last council meeting, which was held Tuesday, Aug. 26, members began hammering out details of the proposal to allow and regulate retail marijuana in the downtown core. The online petition was started in the wake of that meeting.
Breckenridge has long been a leader in the state and the nation in decriminalizing marijuana.
In November 2009, a full three years before the passage of Amendment 64, Breckenridge voted by a 73 percent margin to decriminalize the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana for people 21 years and older.
In November 2012, when the state approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, Breckenridge voters approved the law by more than 70 percent. Meanwhile, Amendment 64 received 55 percent approval statewide.
One commenter on the petition points out that fact.
“What I find interesting is how many of the signers and commenters actually live in Breckenridge,” wrote Timothy Faust, a professional photographer who lives in Breckenridge. “Nearly 80 percent of the town’s residents voted to have marijuana treated exactly like alcohol. If you don’t live here, you don’t get a vote. If the idea of marijuana stores on Main Street is that repugnant to you, you don’t need to visit.”
Council is expected to vote on a first reading of the proposed ordinance in October.
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