HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — From a unanimous vote, Grand County Commissioners are allowing retail recreational marijuana shops under Amendment 64.
The decision only applies to unincorporated portions of the county with commercial zoning. Those areas with potential for pot retail are few, but could include parts of Tabernash, properties directly west of Granby, areas along Highway 34, and possibly areas in Parshall.
Commissioner Merrit Linke initially proposed a ban on retail shops, citing concerns with cannabis still being illegal federally, no demonstrated cases of marijuana sales eliminating crime or drug cartels, potential issues with money laundering and lack of tax structure, among other things.
“It makes more problems and headaches for us as regulators,” Linke said.
Commissioners James Newberry and Gary Bumgarner, however, voted down the proposed ban.
“I’ve weighed out all those issues also,” Newberry said. “But it’s here, so we either recognize and regulate it or we turn away and expect it will be picked up elsewhere.”
By licensing and permitting retail marijuana, Newberry said, the county could at least collect some revenue for law enforcement to deal with the fallout of marijuana use. Still, all three commissioners agreed that revenue collected from marijuana sales will likely be minimal.
The commissioners and county attorneys also agreed that making no decision on the measure would result in a worse-case scenario — causing retail cannabis regulations to fall to the state’s control.
With this in mind Linke joined Newberry and Bumgarner in approving a motion to allow retail cannabis facilities. Regulations, taxes and other procedures will be decided in December. A temporary moratorium will be in effect until that time.