The opportunity to open a marijuana grow or marijuana-infused product factory could be coming to Durango.
The Durango City Council asked city planners to continue to research where these businesses could be located and how they might compete with other businesses.
A previous City Council had decided to ban these businesses, but planning staff members brought the issue back to councilors because they have received almost monthly phone calls, and some serious interest has sprouted recently.
“I surmise there is maybe elevated demand here in the Four Corners,” said Phillip Supino, a city planner. Much of the marijuana cultivation happens around metro-Denver, but that’s a long way to truck product.
Right now, all of the local marijuana-grow facilities are in La Plata County, and even if they are close enough for annexation, they can’t apply because of current regulations.
“We end up missing these opportunities,” Supino said.
If the businesses were allowed, it could open an opportunity for a new tax on a local industry. But the councilors said they would talk with business owners to see what level of taxation would be acceptable.
The councilors abandoned a possible sales tax on recreational marijuana in July.
Marijauna-growing facilities could present challenges for the city, particularly because they require lots of water and electricity.
They also can push out other industries from available warehouse space, Supino said.
One way to limit this impact would be to set a cap on the number of grows allowed, said Greg Hoch, director of community development.
Despite these potential pitfalls, the industry could also lay the groundwork for a new industrial park, Councilor Dick White said.
The councilors asked the Durango Planning Commission to do more research and consult with the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance before presenting more specific plans.