Marijuana industry continues to evolve in Routt County |

Marijuana industry continues to evolve in Routt County

— The recreational marijuana industry has already changed during the first year of sales, and the evolution is destined to continue at federal, state and local levels.

In Oak Creek, the town is still in the early stages of its new-found marijuana growing industry, which ships pot by the pound to places like Breckenridge and Crested Butte.

In Steamboat Springs, Steamboat 420 is now offering free shuttle service to the Rocky Mountain Remedies marijuana store. City leaders believe the industry is working the way they envisioned it.

Hayden town officials and Routt County commissioners had a “wait and see what happens” attitude when it came to the recreational marijuana industry. Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said it might be worth revisiting their moratorium, but he does not envision allowing someone to open up a store along the road in unincorporated parts of the county.

“We try to push the retail into municipalities,” Monger said.

Even though there does not appear to be a local shortage of recreational marijuana inventory, Monger could see the possibly of allowing growing operations in the county.

“We’re talking about having that conversation, and I think we will before the end of the year,” Monger said.

If anything, Monger said the grow operations could create some jobs and economic activity.

In Hayden, a moratorium remains in place for all retail and recreational marijuana operations. That means no sales, no growing and no infusing products like brownies with marijuana to be sold elsewhere.

Mayor Jim Haskins said he thinks the Hayden Town Board would consider revisiting the moratorium.

“I don’t know why they wouldn’t revisit it if a citizen comes and wants to revisit it and gets it on as an agenda item” Haskins said.

He said he thought opinions from council members would vary, depending on what was being proposed, whether it be marijuana cultivation, edible manufacturing or retail sales.

“I think there would be a much bigger reluctance for retail sales,” Haskins said.

In Steamboat, Council President Bart Kounovsky said the industry is working.

“I thought that the local regulations that we put in place worked very well,” he said.

Steamboat has reached its cap of three retail stores, and Kounovsky does not think that number should change.

“I haven’t had any constituents come to me and say we have to change this, that or the other,” he said.

Steamboat’s three retail operations are located on the west end of town, away from the visitor-heavy downtown and Steamboat Ski Area.

Kounovsky said he thinks the current locations are appropriate, and he does not want retail pot shops downtown.

“I think that sends the wrong message to our visitors,” Kounovsky said.

Pot shops in Steamboat Springs sold $6.8 million worth of recreational and medical product last year and generated $271,901 in sales tax revenue for the city. In the town of Breckenridge, a voter-approved 5 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana netted an additional $381,582 for the town in 2014.

Kounovsky said he is not interested in an additional tax.

From a law enforcement perspective, Steamboat Police Chief Joel Rae said there have already been changes at the state level to address some problems. For example, edible products now have requirements for serving sizes and labels that make it more clear that the products contain marijuana.

Rae said the City Council in May or early June is expected to review its existing marijuana ordinances to see if they need to be tweaked.

“A lot of that will depend on what happens at the state level,” Rae said.

Rae’s concerns continue to focus on people driving while high and potential crime that comes with growing medical marijuana, such as people shipping it out of state illegally. With a doctor’s permission, an individual can grow up to 99 plants for medicinal purposes.

“That’s a broken system,” Rae said.

Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher predicts there are going to be significant changes in the way medical and recreational marijuana are governed. He said there will be a harmonizing of the two.

Marijuana is going to be tracked in pounds instead of by the number of plants, Fisher said.

He said a new caregiver bill going through the legislature this session will bring “big, big, changes” for those who grow medical marijuana for others.

“Law enforcement is going to be given the tools and be able to inspect those caregiver grows,” Fisher said.

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

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