The city of Cortez is considering an ordinance to allow businesses to produce and sell edible marijuana products.
The issue arose at a recent City Council work session after Oliver Scott-Tomlin, chief operations officer at The Herbal Alternative, presented new products he hopes to incorporate in his business. Cortez council and staff members debated the value of marijuana business needs versus city liability concerns.
Scott-Tomlin said that his marijuana dispensary looks to branch out into new products such as popcorn and baked goods.
“What we would like to do is start to produce our own products,” Scott-Tomlin said. “We’re not asking the city to allow us to do extractions and produce oils and things like that. We just want to combine oil and product to make things like popcorn, some baked goods and things like that.
“Really in the market for us, that’s how we survive, that’s how we roll, that’s how we grow.”
However, City Attorney Mike Green and Melissa Mathews, a county environmental health specialist, had some concerns about putting in place a mechanism to inspect the new food products. Inspections are regulated under the Colorado Department of Revenue.
At the meeting, Green said that much depends on what businesses expect to do – the types and quantities of food products would affect a prospective ordinance, especially in terms of building code rules.
“It’s going to be process-determined,” he said. “Putting oil on popcorn is different than baking.”
Currently, the city doesn’t have an appropriate license class for this situation, Green said.
And with the updated land use code still being finalized, Green said that he doesn’t anticipate any regulatory ordinance getting passed until October or November. Scott-Tomlin said he was fine with the timeline.
Enforcement would pose another difficulty because a police officer would need to be trained to inspect the sites. Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane, who was present at the work session, said officer Noah Herrmann has been working in marijuana enforcement for the past three months and could be trained in inspections.
Councilman Orly Lucero was concerned about liability.
“I hate to see the city be responsible for the inspections,” he said.
The council ultimately asked Green to continue researching and reach out to nearby municipalities that have passed ordinances.
“We want to be able to let the industry keep up with what the trends are, so that we don’t lose business to Durango, to Grand Junction,” Councilwoman Jill Carlson said.