Breckenridge looks to form new liquor and marijuana licensing authority | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge looks to form new liquor and marijuana licensing authority

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

The Town of Breckenridge is looking to form the liquor and marijuana licensing authority, shifting marijuana licensing responsibilities from the town manager to the current liquor board. In a first reading Tuesday night, town council voted unanimously in support of the change.

"I just think it's a cleaner process," councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence said. "It's much more transparent this way."

Similar to the current liquor licensing process, the new authority would review annual license renewals, conduct violation hearings and process license registration changes, such as changes in ownership and location, communications director Kim Dykstra explained. Town council would still set local laws and regulations, which will remain unchanged until the current moratorium on new marijuana licenses sunsets in July.

"Several years ago, when the town first legalized the use of marijuana in town, they created the marijuana authority to do that in the town manager," town attorney Tim Berry said. "This would reconfigure the Liquor Licensing Authority as the Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Authority."

Dykstra explained that the council had intended to add this process to the liquor licensing authority from the beginning, when medical dispensaries were first legalized in 2009, once the town had a better handle on the new industry. The ordinance was proposed in the new year, with Rick Holman stepping up as the new town manager.

"We start off another year about marijuana," councilman Mark Burke laughed. "Couldn't we have picked a different topic for our first resolution of 2016? "

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There was no contention among council members about the transition, but a few discussed how many individuals should serve on the authority. The current liquor licensing authority has five members, which the majority of votes supported retaining.

"I think we have appointed good people who have ability to understand these issues," councilman Gary Gallagher said.

Lawrence said she would prefer to see seven people on the authority instead of five, with the added responsibility of marijuana licensing.

"It's more of a peer review," Councilman Ben Brewer agreed. "In such a small community, having three people decide as a quorum of these issues is a very small number."

For now, the consensus is to retain five members on the combined authority.

"You only have four shops, and they only go in front of the board when they have a violation," Burke said.

The town manager has only seen two hearings since marijuana licensing began in 2009. While the liquor licensing authority's 2015 report has not yet been approved, in 2014, the authority saw four hearings on liquor violations.

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