The Dolores Town Board voted 4-2 Monday on a proposed ordinance that would extend a ban on retail marijuana businesses for an additional two years.
The proposed ordinance must still go through a second reading Sept. 12, and a public hearing in October before a final vote is made.
The current Dolores moratorium ordinance on commercial marijuana businesses is set to expire at the end of December.
Dolores Mayor Santiago Lopez voted for the proposed extended ban, but not because he is necessarily against the idea of a pot shop in town.
“I don’t think there was enough information to make an informed decision,” he said. “This gives us time to get more information on whether it is viable for our community.”
Board trustees Robert Dobry and Trevor Ince voted against the proposed ordinance that would extend the moratorium.
Dobry said he’d like to hear the experiences of similar-size towns that have legalized retail pot shops, such as Mancos.
Ince added that a pot shop could be a good business venture for town.
“I’ve heard from locals that they want a recreational marijuana store here,” he said. “And the extra sales tax revenues would be good for the town.”
Before Amendment 64 legalized recreational marijuana sales in Colorado in 2012, Dolores had two medical marijuana dispensaries allowed under Colorado law for patients who qualified. But the shops closed, and the town enacted bans on marijuana businesses. Concerns expressed Monday were potential hidden costs to regulate the businesses and grow sites, negative impacts to youth, and that it could increase crime.
Sheriff Steve Nowlin said marijuana shops in Cortez have had some trouble, such as break-ins and robberies because they are cashed-based.
“It’s a problem, and is only getting worse,” he said.
Regulating commercial grow sites for medical retail stores could be an extra cost to the town, said Dolores town attorney Mike Green.
On the other hand, recreational retail pot shops are more simple to regulate, he said, because they do not require grow sites, and are stocked by wholesale distributors.
Mayor Lopez said at this point there are too many unknowns.
“Do communities make money, or does it cause an increase in costs to the town for extra law enforcement and regulation?” he said. “I’d like to hear more of how the community feels about it.”
Trustee Val Truelsen added that if the town board changes its mind about allowing retail marijuana stores, they can always vote to revoke the moratorium if it is adopted.