Marijuana

Durango’s Business Improvement District did the city a service by commissioning two polls about how to handle recreational marijuana. While hardly surprising, the results should inform the City Council’s decisions on regulating pot.

In particular, the polls are further evidence that elected officials should calm down and do what the voters intended: Treat recreational marijuana like alcohol.

One poll asked Chamber of Commerce members and subscribers to the BID email list about their opinion regarding marijuana regulations, specifically about selling pot downtown. The results reported a fairly even split between those fine with downtown sales and those strongly opposed. With that, the BID wisely took no official stand and simply passed on the results.

The other survey was more interesting. It looked at how “peer cities” – other Colorado towns like Durango – have handled recreational marijuana sales. The survey covered Aspen, Telluride, Leadville, Breckenridge, Carbondale and Silverton. It got advice from municipal staff members in those towns about what regulatory schemes work and what problems to expect.

The answers offer no solace for those opposed to downtown sales.

Silverton does not yet have a pot shop. All the other “peer cities” do, and they all allow them in their downtowns. Breckenridge has seven downtown marijuana stores – and apparently no problems. The only issue reported was in Telluride, where a staff member said there have been 911 calls “due to baby boomers ... overconsuming edibles.”

Better still, a Leadville staffer laid out the regulatory course Durango should follow, saying it should “treat marijuana just like liquor stores, bars, breweries. Don’t overthink this or complicate this: For small towns, blowing this out of proportion and creating complex regulations will likely create enforcement headaches down the road.”

Precisely. Do not overthink this. Take the liquor laws, replace the word “alcohol” with “marijuana” and move on.

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