Hayden’s first retail marijuana ordinance takes shape
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An ordinance that would allow Hayden’s first marijuana dispensary took shape during the Hayden Town Council’s meeting June 20.
Members discussed how they would regulate a proposed shop, which, if the ordinance passes, would be located near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
The town has taken a cautious approach to the industry following legalization of retail marijuana in 2012. An ordinance initially banned the manufacturing, cultivation and retail selling of marijuana.
But as communities across the state reap millions in tax revenue from dispensaries and grow operations, Hayden residents have been warming up to bringing the industry into city limits.
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The town loosened its restrictions in 2016 when voters approved marijuana grow operations and an excise tax on the industry.
When Rodney McGowen, the Hayden resident seeking to open the town’s first dispensary, brought the matter to the council in May, members unanimously voted to move toward amending an ordinance that still prohibits the sale of retail and medicinal marijuana.
McGowen favors the airport location because it would attract tourists flying into town, and it’s on the periphery for most Hayden residents.
“In my opinion, I don’t think the town would like to have (a dispensary) on the main street,” he said.
Mayor Tim Redmond is of a similar opinion. As council members discussed provisions for the ordinance, limiting the location of future dispensaries was a chief concern. While not finalized, the members favored establishing a 1,000-foot buffer zone around schools and parks.
“What we’re trying to do is keep it palatable for the people of Hayden,” Redmond said of the budding ordinance.
Like other council members, Redmond hopes a marijuana store would bring in substantial tax revenue, and he wants to take a more laissez-faire approach to the industry as a whole.
“It’s a legal business, and I don’t want to discourage legal businesses,” he said.
While council members looked to Steamboat Springs’ marijuana regulations for guidance, they have taken their own approach in certain areas.
Perhaps most notably, they did not favor adding a local sourcing requirement. Steamboat recently passed an ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, requiring dispensaries to source 50% of their products from within city limits.
“We don’t feel the need to have that type of control,” Redmond said, pointing to the administrative demands required to enforce such a requirement.
Hayden Police Chief Greg Tuliszewski has been actively involved in discussions about changes to the marijuana ordinance. While he had reservations in the past, many of those have turned out to be unfounded. For example, he has not noticed a spike in drivers getting pulled over while under the influence of marijuana.
Some residents still have their reservations. Brian Hoza, who serves as president of the Hayden School Board, expressed concerns at the May meeting that children could perceive marijuana as less dangerous if it becomes more accepted.
Even if the ordinance passes, Redmond believes Hayden will not expand beyond the single dispensary near the airport.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the matter when the council convenes for a first reading of the official ordinance at its July 11 meeting.
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