De Beque mulls pot’s future

Buffer zone with schools a big issue to be solved

The De Beque Board of Trustees meets in the De Beque Community Center Monday evening to talk about the regulation process of recreational marijuana. Likely the most pressing issue for town trustees will be how to get around the issue of a federally required buffer zone of 1,000 feet between retail marijuana stores and schools. No downtown sites in the small town are more than 1,000 feet from the nearest school.

So, the voters of the small town of De Beque legalized the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

What’s next?

That’s what town board members began to hash out Monday night during their regular meeting.

Should trustees limit the amount of storefronts or other marijuana production and manufacturing businesses that can locate in De Beque? Should zoning for marijuana retail store be allowed near the interstate? And, how should trustees decide which businesses are a good fit and what should the open hours be?

Many of these questions went unanswered Monday night, but questions pertaining to zoning will go before the town’s planning and zoning board next Monday night. After that, town trustees hope to have some options drafted by town staff to move forward on a vote by June. Retail sales of marijuana already are halted until June 30, and that deadline may be pushed into the future if the town’s framework isn’t ready to go.

Likely the most pressing issue for town trustees will be a federally required buffer zone of 1,000 feet between retail marijuana stores and schools. In the town of about 500 people, the school is within 1,000 feet of the downtown core. In fact, the whole downtown is about 1,012 feet, officials said. Yet, only having retail marijuana stores out by Interstate 70 would ensure motorists never ventured into town, further diverting a needed boost for area.

“It’s too bad it’s an arbitrary number,” lamented De Beque mayor Wayne Klahn.

The town of De Beque could impose a buffer zone of any amount for retail marijuana establishments, but officials with the federal government could still require shops to move.

That’s what happened in Glenwood Springs to owner Ron Radtke of Green Dragon Cannabis Co. He reported to town trustees that he was given 45 days by the federal government to move his shop away from a Catholic school, although he was allowed to be there by Glenwood Springs’ standards. Radtke said he now happily operates out of an industrial section of town.

Still, there’s plenty of interest by investors from around the country in De Beque’s choice to accept the green. Town administrator Guy Patterson said he’s received numerous phone calls from potential marijuana business owners across the nation about locating in De Beque.

Six parties representing investment groups looking to start up marijuana businesses in De Beque already have stopped by Klahn’s building, located kitty-corner from town hall.

“We expect a flood of applications,” he said, stressing the word flood.


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