Town of Meeker board nixes recreational pot sales

MEEKER I The Meeker Town Board voted 5-1 on Wednesday night to pass an ordinance making it illegal for the retail sales of recreational marijuana in town.
The vote of the board was unanimous is its rejection of the ordinance with the exception of Trustee Regas Halandras, who voted against the measure.
According to the ordinance, “Whereas the board of trustees has carefully considered the provisions of Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colorado Constitution, the impact of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and retail marijuana stores on the health, safety and welfare of the town and the citizens thereof, the costs regulation balanced against the potential revenues from sales tax proceeds, and has determined that marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and retail stores should not be located within the corporate limits of the town.”
The ordinance also states that the town board considered the comments and testimony offered by members of the public at an advertised public hearing on Sept. 3 as well as any additional comments offered at the public meetings where this ordinance was considered.
Thus, Town Attorney Melody Massih was requested by the town board to draw up the ordinance.
Meeker Town Administrator Scott Meszaros said the legalizing measure is a bilevel law in that both the state and town can issue a permit but that only a town can prohibit the above-listed activities.
He explained that state law gives Colorado cities and towns until Oct. 1 to pass an ordinance against the retail sales of marijuana. If a town does not pass an prohibitive ordinance by Oct. 1, then all an individual has to do is approach the state and request a permit for any of the above-listed uses.
Meszaros also added that this ordinance in no way makes medical or recreational use of marijuana illegal in the town limits as the state has approved both uses of marijuana in the state.
Halandras pointed out that since recreational marijuana is already legal in Colorado, it is foolish to give area residents another reason to leave town and spend money and sales taxes in another town.
“This is just another case of Meeker saying ‘no,’” he said. “People here are using recreational pot and medicinal pot. They will continue to do so. But we are already known as a town that doesn’t really want to grow.”
Board member Bryce Ducey said in opposition, “The public perception here is different than on the Front Range, which passed the law due to sheer numbers. I don’t see Meeker residents in support.”
Also in opposition, board member Rodney Gerloff urged the board to pass the ordinance, “then we will have at least some control. There are a variety of ways to find out if Meeker residents are in favor of the sales points here, and we can always revisit the issue later.”
The two most significant stipulations of the use of medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado are that smokers must be 21 years of age and that the marijuana smoking may not be done in public locations. For violation of either of those provisions, officers with the Meeker Police Department may issue tickets, Meszaros said.
He also pointed out that the Meeker Town Board has previously voted down the sales and distribution of medical marijuana in the town, so there can be no distribution outlets for either recreation or medicinal use in Meeker.
Meszaros said prior to last night’s meeting that he would not comment on his personal stand on the issue nor speculate on what the town board may do regarding the measure.
“I believe most towns will follow the voters in their area in regard to the state initiative – those that voted in favor will allow the sales; those who voted against the state measure will prohibit the sales,” Meszaros said. “I think you will see most of the towns allowing the sales and distribution are on the more liberal Front Range than those on the Western Slope. It was pretty widely defeated here in Rio Blanco County.”