As part of an education effort to determine whether Dolores should allow retail marijuana stores, town officials completed a survey of similarly sized Colorado towns that approved the business.
“We gathered facts from various communities,” said board member Tracy Murphy, who conducted the research along with board member Melissa Watters and Town Manager Jay Ruybalid.
Officials from eight towns that allow pot shops cooperated with the survey. They are: San Luis, population 622; Antonito, 755; Log Lane Village, 872; Oak Creek, 892; Ridgway, 953; Parachute, 1,098; Mancos, 1,377; and Crested Butte, 1,541.
The survey asked each town a series of questions related to cost, revenue, licensing, sales and regulations.
Regarding total costs to towns for marijuana licensing, seven out of eight towns said there were no costs. Crested Butte cited costs to law enforcement for shop-related citations, most often fake IDs. They added that routine renewals and administration were built into the regular workload and did not exceed more than one hour per week.
The survey asked whether the towns had a full-time or part-time marijuana compliance officer and whether they were contracted.
San Luis, Antonito, Ridgway and Parachute reported they did not hire a compliance officer. Oak Creek, Mancos, Log Lane Village and Crested Butte reported the compliance duties were conducted by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s office or Mancos marshal.
Under Amendment 64, which allows marijuana stores in Colorado, towns have the option of asking voters to charge a transaction fee for each sale. Out of the eight towns, only Mancos has implemented a $3 transaction fee.
On the question of revenues from sales taxes earned from marijuana sales, San Luis reported $27,000 per year; Antonito, $50,000 to $75,000 per year; Oak Creek, $100,000 per year; Ridgway, $300,000 per year; Parachute, $447,000 in 11 months; Mancos, $200,000 per year from transaction fees; and Crested Butte, $30,000 per year.
Towns and counties can approve or deny retail marijuana sales by a vote of the board or by a vote of the people.
San Luis, Antonito, Log Lane Village and Mancos granted approval through a public vote. Oak Creek, Ridgway, Crested Butte and Parachute granted approval by a vote of the town board. In 2010, a public vote in Oak Creek to prohibit medical marijuana sales failed.
On zoning and ordinances regulating marijuana sales, four towns went with state regulations only, and four added additional ordinances and zoning. For example, Oak Creek added a light-industrial land use code to accommodate grow and manufacturer licenses. Crested Butte zoned areas specifically for retail sales.
Other highlights of the survey were:
Oak Creek reported marijuana revenues help pay for a school resource officer. They have one retail license and 13 cultivation and manufacturer licenses, which has created 40 jobs. Parachute has seven retail marijuana stores, including one that offers drive-thru service. Ridgway reported that marijuana sales fluctuate, with more sales in the summer.
Dolores currently has a moratorium on retail marijuana stores that expires at the end of 2019. The town board is considering whether to let the ban expire and allow sales, continue the ban or put the matter to a public vote. Other issues are potential planning and zoning regulations for marijuana sales, and whether a transaction fee should be sought if the town decides to allow the shops.
Recent public meetings show the town is divided on the topic of allowing marijuana sales. A public workshop on the marijuana sales issue will be held April 22.
“No decisions have been made, we are gathering information,” said Dolores Mayor Chad Wheelus.