Hayden leaders discuss pot, direct staff to draft emergency ordinance to prohibit ‘pot clubs’
Hayden — During a colorful discussion at a Hayden Town Council meeting Thursday night, marijuana was considered a potential tax revenue source at one point and was called poison a few minutes later.
Hayden Mayor Jim Haskins introduced the discussion item as “tonight’s entertainment.” He then made a joke about the munchies and got up to fill a bowl with some M&M’s.
Jokes aside, the discussion was broad and sometimes quite serious as the impacts of Amendment 64 were discussed among council and staff members.
No members of the public were at the meeting.
“I’m really surprised there aren’t more people here,” council member Bill Hayden said.
The amendment to the Colorado constitution passed in the November election and allows anyone 21 or older to recreationally use marijuana, possess as much as one ounce of pot and grow as many as six plants.
Starting early next year, licensed pot retailers likely will be opening in Colorado. Before the details and regulations are worked out, Colorado communities have been passing emergency ordinances that would make it illegal for anyone to open a “pot club.” Such clubs have opened in Colorado and have allowed people to bring their own pot and consume it with others in a club environment after paying a fee. Consuming pot publicly remains illegal, but some say the “pot clubs” are not public places.
“Instead of BYOB, it’s bring BYOM,” council member Festus Hagins said during the discussion.
The council ultimately directed staff members to craft an emergency ordinance to prohibit “pot clubs.” The ordinance would mirror an ordinance passed in Fruita except it would be in effect until Oct. 1, when the state will start accepting license applications from people who want to open pot shops. By that time, local municipalities are supposed to have their own rules in place to address retail pot shops. Municipalities cannot make it illegal for people to consume marijuana in private, but they can ban pot shops or put in place other restrictions.
Once the bandage is put on the “pot club” loophole, municipalities are going to have to begin discussing whether to allow pot shops. The state is mandated to have its rules in place by June 1, which means municipalities like Hayden will have the summer to debate the issue before license applications are accepted in October.
Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries are banned in Hayden, and many residents have strong feelings against marijuana and the thought of retail shops.
“This is my town, and I don’t think we need this poison here,” Hayden Police Chief Gordon Booco said, adding that he thought marijuana would cause problems similar to alcohol, which often is a factor in domestic issues.
Some council members seemed undecided when it comes to recreational marijuana use and pot shops in the town.
Hagins said he would have to take into consideration the 50.5 percent of Hayden area residents who voted for Amendment 64.
Council member Hayden, who owns the Hayden Mercantile grocery store, brought up the issue of potential tax revenue and questioned the hypocrisy of allowing some goods to be sold but not others.
“I sell tobacco, and that’s the biggest killer in the world,” Hayden said. “We don’t outlaw that because it’s a revenue source.”
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the town’s new quarterly newsletter was debuted to council members. It is compiled by Hayden staff members and will be sent to residents by mail.
Before distributing the first letter, Town Manager David Torgler asked council members whether they supported spending more money to have it printed in full color. It would cost an estimated $34.80 annually to print it in black and white and $273.20 to have it printed in full color.
“I think the color really makes our newsletter look like a high-quality product,” Torgler said.
The council agreed and recommended it be printed in full color.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
Moffat County School District will provide shuttle services to Moffat County High School graduation, set for 10 a.m to noon Saturday, May 25 at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane.