SILVERTON – San Juan County commissioners have gotten their first look at a draft ordinance that would allow marijuana-related businesses to operate in the county under rules similar to bars and liquor stores.
The ordinance was drafted after an earlier proposed ordinance that would have banned marijuana businesses was rejected by the commissioners late last year.
County Administrator Willy Tookey said last week the proposed ordinance would allow marijuana retail operations, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities and a testing facility.
He distributed the 20-page draft ordinance to the commissioners for their review before scheduling a first reading.
Tookey said the ordinance does not establish the actual licensing fees, and those fees would be set by a resolution adopted by the county commissioners. He recommended fees ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
And he said the county could impose an additional sales or excise tax on marijuana sales and production, but that would have to be approved by voters in an election because of tax-limitation measures in the state constitution.
“It might be something we could consider for the November election,” he said.
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman suggested such a tax could help finance a new Lackawanna Bridge.
“We could build it out of hemp,” he joked.
Marijuana possession for recreational use by adults has been legal in Colorado since January 2013, after a ballot issue in November 2012. And as of Jan. 1, 2014, marijuana sales are allowed throughout the state, but subject to local approval.
Three Telluride shops opened New Year’s Day. The town of Silverton has not banned recreational marijuana sales, but it does not yet have a licensed store. Durango and La Plata County have a moratorium on sales but are in the process of drafting guidelines before licensing stores for operation.
San Juan County officials have yet to schedule a hearing on the draft ordinance. It would allow retail marijuana establishments only on roads maintained year-round – U.S. Highway 550, County Road 110 and County Road 2. It would ban such facilities within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, church or publicly owned building, park or playground.
Tookey noted that marijuana-related business, like all other land uses in the county aside from mining, will be a use subject to review and the county’s land-use regulations.
The draft ordinance would limit retail marijuana shops to the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.