Craig City Council rolls taxes into new marijuana ordinance
Editor’s note: this report has been updated to reflect additional statements from Councilman Chris Nichols.
The Craig City Council voted to increase the proposed excise and sales taxes on marijuana sold inside the city limits Tuesday night — taxes that will take effect only if voters vote yes on several marijuana-related ballot questions in November.
During the regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 13, some councilors decided the previous 5% sales and 5% excise taxes on marijuana sold in Craig weren’t enough. Councilman Chris Nichols made the motion to raise and cap the taxes at 10% to allow any future council to change the sales and excise taxes on local marijuana as they see fit.
Nichols made the motion after council voted down Councilman Tony Bohrer’s pleas to extend the timespan that extra sales and excise tax dollars from marijuana will go to Craig’s library and the Museum of Northwest Colorado from the agreed upon three years up to five years. Nichols included the five-year marijuana stimulus in his motion to raise and cap the taxes.
“I will go five years on the Craig branch of the library and our museum,” Nichols said.
In a social media post Thursday, Nichols said “…what we passed was to allow up to a 10% maximum tax to allow future councils to adjust as necessary. No actual tax rate was set in this motion.”
Councilman Paul James was outspoken in his insistence that Craig not impose additional taxes on Craig’s burgeoning marijuana industry.
“I don’t understand why we have to single them out,” James said, adding he wants Craig to be “as business-friendly as possible.”
The motion passed 4-3 with councilors Nichols, Bohrer, Brian MacKenzie, and Mayor Jarrod Ogden voting yes. James, Steve Mazzuca, and Andrea Camp voted against it.
There wasn’t much back and forth from the Craig City Council on one marijuana-related ballot question — ordinance 1097 approving retail marijuana cultivation businesses, retail marijuana manufacturing businesses, retail marijuana test facilities, and retail marijuana off-premises storage businesses in the city of Craig.
Craig’s council approved that part unanimously for the November ballot along with a ballot question asking voters to approve moving Craig’s usual April municipal elections during odd years to a November election during even years.
Still to be hammered out is the possibility of adding Craig’s commercial downtown business zone to the list of zones allowed to house marijuana businesses. The commercial downtown district is perhaps the city’s most prized area of downtown where Yampa Avenue and Victory Way meet.
Nichols brought up the subject after speaking with business owners in the area.
“I’d like to look at including our downtown business zones after getting some input from the Downtown Business Association,” Nichols said.
But, allowing marijuana related businesses in Craig’s commercial downtown zone presents some challenges, namely the 800-foot setback distance such businesses must be from residences, schools, parks, and other prohibited facilities.
“Setbacks are a big issue that council needs to look at,” City Attorney Sherman Romney said during the meeting.
After some discussion about keeping setbacks to 500 feet — the same required of liquor stores in Craig — Mayor Ogden advised council he felt like there should be more discussion before they make a decision.
“I think we need to sit down as a group and discuss this further,” Ogden said.
A unanimous motion passed for Romney to amend the current marijuana resolution and present that to council at its next meeting for a second and final reading when council plans to approve the marijuana ballot question.
“I’ll have a different ordinance for council to approve on second reading,” Romney said.