Steamboat City Council to review marijuana rules

Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Springs leaders on Tuesday will discuss whether the city’s current regulations for marijuana businesses are working.

Issues up for discussion include whether there are enough dispensaries and if regulations should be changed to allow for dispensaries closer to the mountain area.

“The current status of the marijuana industry in the city of Steamboat Springs appears to be under control,” Steamboat police Capt. Jerry Stabile wrote in a memo to city council members.

From a law enforcement perspective, Stabile said dispensary owners have been very willing to correct any compliance issues, and they have kept advertising to a minimum.

Juvenile usage of marijuana appears to have increased according to Stabile. The school resource officer deals with a marijuana incident about once a week during the school year. Most often, juveniles are consuming marijuana discretely using a vaporizer pen.

Stabile said it is rare to find juveniles using marijuana that can be traced directly back to the dispensaries.

One issue being dealt with on both the state and local level is illegal grows.

The police department has investigated reports of illegal grows at numerous locations. Stabile said almost all the grows were legal under what he described as the medical care provider “loophole.” People were also growing the legal amount allowed, which is six plants per person with three of the plants flowering.

State lawmakers are working on legislation that Stabile said would hopefully give them enforcement options for those grows.

With regard to the number of dispensaries allowed in Steamboat, Stabile believes the existing three are more than adequate for the population of Steamboat.

“I would like to reiterate that our current relationship and understanding with the three licensed businesses is good,” Stabile said. “Advertisements are minimal, locations are appropriate and the overall relationships are good.”

Future locations of dispensaries is something the council is likely to discuss. Currently, all three dispensaries are on the west side of Steamboat, away from tourist-heavy areas.

“The city’s incumbent licensees would prefer to be able to operate closer to the ski mountain,” City Attorney Dan Foote wrote to council members. “They view the status quo as acceptable, but express concerns that if any of the three were ever to succeed in establishing a retail store south of downtown, the other two would be at a serious competitive disadvantage.”

While dispensaries could be located closer to the mountain, current rules state dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from a park.

“In practice, however, the parks distance requirement and private restrictions on marijuana uses have so far defeated local licensee efforts to establish marijuana sales locations south of the downtown area,” Foote said.

Tuesday’s city council meeting begins at 5 p.m.

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

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