For the fifth year in a row, the Dolores Town Board voted to continue its moratorium on retail marijuana sales for another year. The temporary ban on retail pot operations passed unanimously and is now set to expire Dec. 31, 2020.
However, recognizing that a more permanent decision is needed, the board scheduled a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at to try again for a more defined solution or direction on the controversial topic.
The extended moratorium was needed, officials said, because the board needs more time to decide on what direction to go before the previous moratorium’s deadline of Dec. 31 expired.
“The board needs to handle its responsibility and make a decision,” said mayor Chad Wheelus.
Multiple attempts to set a policy during the November meeting ended in 3-3 deadlock, with one trustee, Jen Stark, absent.
Trustees are faced with three options:
They could vote to allow the sales and set a timeline for drawing up regulations for the business and cancel the moratorium.They could vote to permanently ban sales.They could vote to put the measure on the April or November ballot.The extended moratorium was needed either way, officials said.
If the current one was allowed to expire at the end of this month, the town would have no regulations in place for recreational pot sales, which was made legal in Colorado in 2012. Towns and counties are allowed to ban retail sales. Montezuma County has banned retail marijuana sales in unincorporated areas. Cortez, Mancos, Durango, and Telluride allows them.
The land-use code would need to be updated to address marijuana shops, said town attorney John Kelly. The code is currently going through a revision and update process.
For the marijuana measure to make the April 7 election, ballot language needs to be certified by Feb. 4 with the Montezuma County Clerk’s office.
During the November meeting, the board deadlocked on motions to have the issue on the April and November ballot, and on whether to extend the moratorium.
Town residents are divided on allowing retail marijuana stores.
During public comment, resident Tobie Baker encouraged the board to take action and allow the stores. He has worked in the industry and said it is very heavily regulated.
Dolores School Board Member Lenetta Shull previously presented a formal letter from the board opposing legalizing marijuana shops in town because it could harm students.