De Beque in no rush to start retail pot sales

De Beque Town Manager Guy Patterson said he has been “inundated” with calls from people interested in opening retail marijuana businesses in De Beque since voters passed a ballot measure Tuesday permitting marijuana stores and growing, testing and manufacturing operations in town. But De Beque Town Board members and Patterson said Thursday they plan to take it slow when it comes to rolling out retail marijuana business regulations and fees.

De Beque Town Board members said in a work session Thursday afternoon the first issue to tackle is where in town to allow marijuana businesses, which planning and zoning commission members will discuss the week of April 14. A marijuana tax question could appear as soon as November’s ballot but board members showed no indication at the meeting whether they plan to pursue tax revenue. With few open storefronts or land properly zoned for marijuana operations, Mayor Wayne Klahn said the town may have to entertain numerous zoning and annexation requests.

David Smith, the town’s attorney, suggested board members research marijuana laws, talk to other Colorado towns and cities that have retail marijuana operations, and think about which types of marijuana businesses, if any, to license.

“The measures allows the town board to issues these licenses but it doesn’t mean you have to,” Smith said.

Patterson said several people, many from outside the community, have inquired about opening a retail marijuana shop or starting a growing facility in town. Although he sees a potential economic benefit from interested businesses coming to town, Patterson said the timeline for a rollout will be determined by the town, not “the people trying to make a buck.” June 30 is the last day of a moratorium on marijuana businesses in the community, but Patterson said that moratorium may last longer if the town doesn’t feel ready for implementation.

“We want to be right instead of fast,” Patterson said.

If a new tax passes in November, Patterson said he doubts the town will spend revenue to increase law enforcement.

“I’m not seeing a crime wave in other places” with retail marijuana, he said, adding he may have to re-evaluate if the crime situation turns out to be different in De Beque.

Patterson said there weren’t many vocal opponents or proponents in town before Tuesday’s vote but he will keep in mind that the measure passed by just four votes. Public comment is welcome and the town will try to keep residents informed throughout the implementation process on the http://www.debeque.org website.


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