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April 3, 2013
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GC waits to jump on pot 'ban-wagon'

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS - At least four counties in Colorado already have banned commercial sale, commercial cultivation and product manufacturing of recreational marijuana in Colorado, but Grand County has not yet joined those ranks.

During the county commissioner meeting last week, commissioners opted to wait on pending legislation at the state level before jumping on the "ban-wagon."

Delta, Weld, Douglas and El Paso counties all have banned the commercial aspects of the plant, and counties such as Routt have put a moratorium on it.

Just starting to gather information from counties to produce a map of counties who have initiated banning retail sale, cultivation and infused product manufacturing, Eric Bergman, policy and research supervisor of Colorado Counties Inc., guesses there may be another five to 10 counties in the state with an active ban.

Counties cannot ban personal recreational or medicinal possession of small amounts of pot and the ability to grow six plants for personal use, but they can regulate the sale of it through zoning codes.

The Grand County Planning Department staff sought feedback from commissioners about whether county regulations or an outright ban on sales of the product should be drafted, but commissioners opted to hold off until the state has finished its regulatory process.

Absent a ban in the county, the county will be responsible for processing pot-business license applications by Oct. 1.

A final report by the Governor's Task Force on Amendment 64 rule-making was forwarded to the governor, the General Assembly and Attorney General John Suthers in mid-March, according to Bergman. From there, a legislative committee has been reviewing the 58 recommendations in the report for decisions on policy-making.

The committee was to introduce its findings in early April to meet a May 8 deadline but, according to the Denver Post, has hit a snag with an unflattering audit of the department regulating medical marijuana, the same department that was poised to take over regulatory enforcement of recreational pot.

Meanwhile, the state House has been defining other parts of regulation on pot, such as recently passing a bill concerning driving limits under the influence of the drug. The bill states if a driver's blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter in whole blood at the time of the offense or within reasonable time thereafter, the defendant may have been under the influence.

In a Colorado Counties Inc. memo of "Frequently Asked Questions" dated March 29, Bergman stated the "the Feds have two primary concerns" about Colorado's legalization of recreational pot. One is trafficking of the drug out of Colorado to other states, the other is accessibility to minors.

"The Governor's task force attempted to address both these concerns in the recommendations issued in the final report," Bergman said.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis has introduced federal legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act, according to Bergman. "The bill has not had a hearing scheduled yet, and previous attempts have not been successful."

- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Apr 3, 2013 01:24PM Published Apr 3, 2013 01:23PM Copyright 2013 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.