Craig City Councilors weed through new marijuana ordinance
Municipal voters in Craig could have three marijuana questions on the November ballot after city councilors hashed out much of the city’s new marijuana ordinance late Tuesday night.
Among the highlights of the new proposal are a 5% sales tax and 5% excise tax on marijuana in Craig that councilors will use to fund Moffat County Libraries’ Craig branch and the Museum of Northwest Colorado for a period of five years, after which any new city council can appropriate the additional tax dollars at their discretion.
The taxes narrowly passed a 4-3 vote with councilors Andrea Camp, Paul James, and Steve Mazzuca dissenting.
The sales and excise taxes are in addition to existing local and state taxes on marijuana sales in Colorado.
Councilors also decided to ask the marijuana ballot question of voters in two separate parts:
• Should retail sales through dispensaries be allowed in Craig?
• Should all other areas of marijuana business be allowed in Craig, including warehousing, courier operations, manufacturing, growing, and testing?
A third ballot question will ask voters whether the proposed sales and excise taxes should be passed.
According to City Attorney Sherman Romney, if the ballot questions are approved by voters, Craig’s marijuana ordinance would be finalized and voted on by city council.
“City council would still have to pass it after the election; do a first reading and second reading,” Romney said.
Councilors started their license discussion with the idea that four licenses be allowed for each area of marijuana business in Craig, though James did not exactly concur with fellow council members on that number.
“I think the market will dictate how many will be successful,” James said.
Councilors ultimately decided the city would begin by allowing residents to apply for three licenses for each area of marijuana business in Craig. Applications fees for the licenses would be non-refundable. If an application is denied, the city would keep that money to help offset the cost of ongoing operations and enforcement.
Zoning and hours of operation
Councilor Chris Nichols made many of the marijuana motions Tuesday and was first to suggest allowing just retail sales inside many of Craig’s business zones — including the city’s commercial zone, both industrial zones and both mixed use zones.
Council passed the retail sales zones unanimously, but Nichols was the only dissenting vote for allowing the other areas of marijuana business into the same zones to include Craig’s agricultural zone for larger marijuana operations.
Council also determined that marijuana businesses be kept at least 800 feet from parks, residences, schools, child care facilities, and churches. Potential operation hours in Craig would be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Security, background checks, shopping local
Councilors at first were torn on whether to require background checks, though City Manager Peter Brixius and Craig Police Department’s Jerry DeLong told council they didn’t think it was needed.
“I’m suggesting we don’t,” Brixius said of the city conducting extensive background checks. “I’m suggesting we find whether they’re a legal resident of the United States and go from there.”
Chief DeLong agreed.
“For us to do the same background check as the state does, no,” he said when asked if he thought his office needed to do additional background checks.
Councilors also decided not to require a portion of any retail operation’s marijuana be grown locally.
Lastly, despite reservations from both DeLong and Capt. Bill Leonard, councilors declined to require offsite video surveillance recording to deter burglaries.
“I just don’t think we should be forcing businesses to be paying more money,” James said.
Twenty years ago, as a sophomore at University of Colorado Denver, Nathan Brough wrote an economics paper on hemp’s potential to grow the nation’s gross domestic product.