Our view: Marijuana rules should be revised | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Marijuana rules should be revised

Steamboat Springs City Council's decision to revisit restrictions on retail marijuana sales in the city is a move we support.

Currently, city ordinance limits the number of retail pot shops to three, and buffer zones, which mandate how close marijuana businesses can be located to residential areas, have kept the retail marijuana businesses restricted to the west side of town.

At a recent work session, council members decided to consider lifting the license restriction and also considering the following changes to city code:

• Reduce the required buffer between pot operations and schools, childcare facilities and parks from 1,000 feet to 500 feet.

• Establish a rule that retail pot shops must be 1,500 feet away from an existing store.

• Allow retail stores adjacent to areas zoned for residential use.

At a glance

At issue: City Council will be considering whether or not to allow more pot dispensaries in the city limits.

Our View: The city should lift the limit on marijuana licenses and align regulations to mirror those that govern alcohol sales.

Editorial Board
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@
SteamboatPilot.com
.

According to a Steamboat Pilot & Today online poll, 50 percent of readers who participated in the poll support the three-license limit while 43 percent would like to see it lifted. We side with those who think the law needs to change.

We realize there will be a lot of community input — both pro and con — as the council mulls its options in the coming months, but we hope they'll eventually vote to amend the current law that we believe restricts the free market and creates a three-way monopoly on a $12.25 million business.

It's time for Steamboat Springs to relax its restrictions on pot shops and bring the rules in line with how liquor stores are regulated, which appears to be the direction the council is headed.

We don't question the city's wisdom in limiting licenses during the first years of recreational pot's legalization to see how the industry would develop locally. But now that retail pot shops have been operating for four years, the experiment is over, and it's time to align marijuana regulations with those that govern the sale of alcohol.

Even with these proposed changes, marijuana licenses would not be handed out liberally. Marijuana business owners would still have to comply with a stringent review process that requires an extensive review of the business owner's history, a complete list of the names and addresses of those affiliated with the business and approval of plans for the design of the business' exterior.

We also support the city retaining the rule that requires vertical integration, which means marijuana license holders must utilize affiliated manufacturing and cultivation facilities to produce 70 percent of the products they sell, which in our opinion helps keep the industry more localized.

We also understand there’s a fear that unlimited marijuana licenses might mean pot shops popping up on every street corner, but we think the free market would naturally limit those numbers through costs of operation, competition and a finite consumer demand for the product.

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