Steamboat city councilman raises concerns about illegal pot use at summer concerts |

Steamboat city councilman raises concerns about illegal pot use at summer concerts

Scott Franz

Arion Schweikert twirls a hula hoop in 2010 as she watched the Free Summer Concert Series event at Howelsen Hill.

The smell of marijuana smoke emanating from some concertgoers at Steamboat's Free Summer Concert Series has wafted from Howelsen Hill all the way to the City Council chambers.

Figuratively, at least.

On Tuesday night, City Councilman Scott Ford expressed concern the shows were becoming less family friendly because of some illegal public consumption of marijuana that is occurring at the concerts.

"This should not be happening," Ford said.

Ford called for more vigilance from the city on the issue.

He also called out a local marijuana dispensary for a July 1 newspaper advertisement the business placed encouraging people to stop by to shop at Golden Leaf before the concerts.

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City Manager Gary Suiter said while the city can't control advertising messages because of free speech rights, he suggested he might call the dispensary and say 'c'mon man.'

"Use judgment," Ford added as he suggested what else the city might tell the dispensary in the phone call.

Chris Franges, the retail manager at Golden Leaf, said Wednesday he didn't think the ad encouraged people to consume marijuana at the concert.

“The council has to be concerned about public consumption of marijuana,” he said. “But it’s not like we're advertising for people to consume at the concert.”


Enforcement difficult

Police Chief Cory Christensen said he hadn't heard of any tickets being issued this year for public consumption of marijuana at the concerts.

But he said enforcement of marijuana laws at the shows is difficult.

"It's a difficult issue to approach anyone in those crowds and determine who it is who is openly consuming," he said. "I think a great first step is to get the info out there that open consumption is illegal."

He said he would rather see the city work to educate concertgoers about the rules before working to enforce them.

Christensen also said he had not personally heard complaints about any marijuana use at the concerts.

Winnie DelliQuadri, the city's government programs manager, said she recently spoke to the concert's organizers about the concerns over public marijuana consumption.

She said Coleman Cook, president of the Free Summer Concert Series board, was very receptive to the city's concerns.

"He was very receptive of the idea to posting a sign as you walk into Howelsen Hill and also doing announcements (about not consuming marijuana) from the stage," DelliQuadri said. "They are a partner that is absolutely willing to work with us on this. They're trying very hard to make this family friendly."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10