Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Retail Marijuana and Sausages

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Mayor Gierlach meets with Kevin Bommer,
Colorado Municipal League Deputy Director
and member of the Governor's A64 Task Force

Back in March, we assembled a Mayor's Task Force to provide the Board of Trustees (BOT) with recommendations on four aspects of Recreational Marijuana in Nederland, due to the change in Colorado's constitution with the passage of Amendment 64. As we know, we are a statutory municipality and the BOT has clearly indicated that it will be following the State's lead on the framework for how, when and where commerce and consumption can take place.

State Lobbying Efforts:

The State will have its regulations in place on Wednesday, May 8th which is a big day for this industry. Our Mayor's Task Force has been in a holding pattern until the State establishes its initial regulations. Back in March, our Task Force had an entire meeting dedicated to examining the recommendations from the Governor's office.

The Task force agreed that the Mayor would advocate for a model best suited for our small rural community in Nederland supporting small businesses.
We lobbied against an early provision for a Dec 10, 2012 cut-off date limiting Nederland to only one licensee who would meet the Vertical Integration criteria, and lobbied for an option to locally to allow other applicants, or allow our town to approve Medical licenses in anticipation of the state regulations. 
We lobbied against a one year grace period, also limiting recreational licensees, potentially causing a monopoly in our community. We lobbied for local control over a few items; Suitability for Ownership, and our own local License Fee and Operating Fee. 
We also asked for more information about the process regarding transfer of plants and products because the process could possibly jeopardize current licensees’ businesses if not approved.
Just as fast as my successful lobbying efforts were put into place, stronger forces came back and modified them, new provisions were proposed changing the context, and our State legislators are still going back and forth on several issues. There is an old saying attributed to the German prince, Otto von Bismarck, "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."

The Task Force discussed several other State Regulations that may have been of interest, but outside the purview of our Town as a municipality, so we focused on the items that we had a better chance of success.

Meanwhile across the U.S., as the April 8th cover of Fortune Magazine featured marijuana entrepreneurs, our Task Force is anxiously awaiting a statement of some kind from the federal government, but at this point, nothing has been forthcoming.

Back to Things We Can Control in our Nederland Circle of Influence:

We work best, when we come together as a community and think things through and the Mayor's Task Force on Retail Marijuana has done well at working through tough issues. Under Trustee Fiori's leadership, they have remained focused on four locally controlled tasks: Zoning, Licensing, Building Code and Taxation. Here are the discussions that have been covered, and the conclusions that the task force has come to, so far in the past four meetings:
The Task Force unanimously agreed to recommend three zones for production and retail: Central Business District (CBD), Industrial (I), and General Commercial (GC). The fourth zone, Mountain Residential (MR), is still under debate, but they are leaning toward green-lighting production with stipulations, such as a Special Review Use (SRU) application with the Planning Commission. Homeowner, or Owner Endorsement Only regulations are also on the table for discussion. 
The Task Force voted unanimously to allow "clubs" or "cafes", but it looks like that may not be an option, due to State Statutes being formed (like sausages). 
Regarding retail sales, the Task Force strived to adhere to the tenets of Amendment 64, which asked that marijuana be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. For example, the Task Force unanimously agreed to regulate hours of operation from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on all days except Sunday, just like alcohol. 
The Task Force also deferred to the existing Nederland Medical Marijuana Regulations of 100 foot setbacks from schools. 
Finally, the Task Force began discussing taxation. They ruled out an excise tax, but they are still gearing up for a debate about use tax, occupation tax and sales tax.
Note: I understand that this information is in stark contrast to the Westword article: Marijuana: Nederland's Town Rules Would Allow On-Site Pot Consumption Designed for Tourists, but Westword, did not contact Town Hall , and did not contact myself or Trustee Fiori. I have to assume they copied my photo off the internet, and extrapolated Trustee Fiori's quote from a rumor they heard. Now that they are referencing their own articles as source material, this misinformation could resurface. More sausage making.

Here is a link for more detail – the Town's official documents, meeting schedule, and agendas regarding the Mayor's Task Force on Retail Marijuana. Residents can also follow along on the progression of implementing Amendment 64 in Nederland (from a broader perspective) by clicking on the "A64 Chronicles" tab at the top of this page.

I'm vegetarian, so I'm not really into sausage.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is a local favorite Nederland band, Leftover Salmon performing When I Grow Up. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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