Mancos leaders voted unanimously last week to extend the town's moratorium on retail marijuana sales through June 30.
Following a half-hour discussion on Wednesday, Nov. 13, the vote to extend the moratorium allows town leaders additional time to adopt proper guidelines and procedures for licensing and regulating recreational marijuana ventures, said trustee Chip Tuthill. The six-month moratorium could be lifted sooner if the town is able to adopt proper guidelines prior to June 30, he added.
"The trustees are open to explore the matter further," said Mayor Rachel Simbeck. "We have a lot of things to look into."
Nate Fate, co-business owner of the town's sole medical marijuana dispensary, urged town officials to extend the moratorium. Fate said officials would need time to sort through the state's 136-page guidelines in order to adopt proper zoning standards.
"I strongly suggest the town be active," he told trustees.
One-and-half percent of a state sales tax will be shared evenly with all municipalities who legalize recreational sales. Fate said the state projects those Colorado towns would evenly split upwards of $6 million in the first year alone.
"Everyday, we have people come into our shop who are interested in purchasing retail marijuana," Fate said. "I recommend the town move forward on this."
Mancos resident Regina Roberts said she initially opposed recreational marijuana sales, but reminded trustees that 59 percent of local voters approved Amendment 64, which enables all state residents to cultivate, possess and consume marijuana.
"It's time to listen to the people," she said.
Town administrator Andrea Phillips predicted the town could draft an appropriate ordinance to govern local sales within a couple of months. She expects to present town officials with a resolution to officially adopt the extended moratorium next month.
The current moratorium expires Dec. 31.
Town Marshal John Cox voiced the lone opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana sales at Wednesday's meeting.
"I'm against retail sales," he said emphatically. "The extra revenue does not outweigh the risk to public safety."
Tuthill's motion to extend the moratorium also included a directive for town officials to examine the possibility of increasing a local four percent sales tax on retail marijuana sales. Any tax increase would require voter approval.
More than half of Colorado cities and towns have completely prohibited retail marijuana shops from opening inside their jurisdictions.
Another 15 percent of the state's municipalities have passed regulatory guidelines approving recreational sales and less than 10 percent, including Cortez and Dolores, have imposed some form of moratorium.