After strong initial interest, city says marijuana business license inquiries have tapered off
Steamboat Springs — City officials say the long line of people wanting to get into the marijuana business in Steamboat Springs hasn’t been making as much noise in recent months.
“They were really trying to beat down the doors for a long time, but that has tapered off,” Assistant City Attorney Dan Foote said Friday.
Prior to August, Foote said, the city was hearing from as many as two new individuals each month who wanted to get in on the local marijuana industry.
The city’s rules do not allow for any more marijuana business licenses to be issued, so many individuals have been turned away. But Foote added while some wanted to open retail stores, most were asking about starting grow facilities not connected to a store.
Foote suggested the inquiries about marijuana licenses tapered off after the former Steamboat Springs City Council made it clear it had no interest in expanding the number of licenses at this time.
Or, he said, the city may simply have finally heard from everyone who was interested.
What isn’t yet clear is how many of the individuals took their business ideas elsewhere and how many might still be waiting for the rules to change.
The council recently indicated it was satisfied with how the new marijuana industry was going and would not entertain any major changes, including changing the rules governing where stores can operate within the city.
Currently, the city allows a maximum of three retail stores, and zoning regulations prohibit marijuana stores from opening downtown and at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
With a new city council majority now sworn in, however, at least one community member is continuing to call on the city to reconsider its current ordinance to allow more people to enter the marijuana industry.
Patrick Arnone, who is interested in getting into the business, said the city’s current ordinance does not allow existing marijuana businesses to be sold.
He also said the rules force existing operations to be “conglomerates” and operate their own grow operations instead of allowing someone else to do so.
Arnone said he thinks the city’s rules have forced some people who want to be in the marijuana business in Steamboat Springs to take their businesses to nearby communities, such as Oak Creek.
Foote said the city is uncertain how many of the businesses that have popped up in Oak Creek would have instead established themselves in Steamboat had the rules allowed for more permits.
Steamboat’s marijuana industry logged more than $5 million in sales during the first seven months of 2015.
From January through July, dispensaries sold $5,250,381.25 worth of medical and retail marijuana.
That represents a 29 percent increase over the same period in 2014.
The sales amounted to $210,015.25 in sales tax revenue for the city.
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