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Council open to more marijuana licenses

Steamboat Pilot & Today
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— Some Steamboat Springs City Council members are supportive of increasing the number of businesses allowed to sell marijuana for recreational use.

The council on Tuesday spent more than an hour discussing the existing local rules that are used to regulate the industry.

Currently, the number of license holders is limited to three within the city limits. Some have said this restriction has created a monopoly, but Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher pointed out that it is technically an oligopoly, where a small number of businesses control the market.

“There is that point where you want to make it an open marketplace,” City Council President Walter Magill said.

Council member Scott Ford said that in recent years the city has taken a “slow-go approach” in regulation, and he suggested making three more licenses available.

“Right now, we’ve protected the market to just three,” Ford said.

Council member Kathi Meyer had some reservations about doubling the number of available licenses.

“To me, that’s not slow,” Meyer said.

Council member Tony Connell suggested adding one more license and developing a system with a trigger for adding an additional license.

Marijuana business owners spoke and said that adding more competition would increase the amount of advertising they would need to do to attract customers.

While supportive of adding more licenses, Magill acknowledged it would lead to additional advertising. He recalled that when medical marijuana stores started doing business in Routt County, there was a lot of advertising.

“I don’t think the community was happy with it,” Magill said.

Marijuana businesses currently do not advertise heavily.

Council members ultimately decided that before adding any additional licenses, they need to take another look at where the businesses can be located.

Because of restrictions that state marijuana businesses cannot be located next to areas zoned as residential or within 1,000 feet of a park, the businesses are essentially restricted to the west side of Steamboat.

In the coming months, the council does plan to make revisions to its rules to align them with the state’s rules. They decided not to pursue the topic of allowing marijuana smoking clubs in the city.

The council is expected to have another discussion about the number of marijuana business licenses in about six months.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


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