Consumers may be able to get locally made marijuana-infused products and purchase them later in the day if the Durango City Council acts on a list of proposed marijuana regulations.
The council seemed open Tuesday to permitting marijuana-infused product manufacturing, extending the legal hours of marijuana shops and allowing local business to test medical marijuana.
Councilors seemed more hesitant to explore allowing grow facilities because of the space, electricity and water they require.
Laws to allow local businesses to test medical marijuana and marijuana shops to stay open until midnight could take effect by Aug. 31 at the earliest, according to city documents.
While the new testing permit will be one of the first changes, the wait could be tough on Aurum Labs, said Luke Mason, a co-owner.
The deadline for medical marijuana grows to begin to have their products tested is July 1, and Mason is concerned he may lose business to facilities in Denver and Boulder who can apply now for local permits.
“We had everything covered but the local license. We thought that would be fairly simple,” he said.
While a state law in 2015 set July 1 as the deadline for medical marijuana testing, the state didn’t pass a law allowing cities to issue permits for these business until late March. The Marijuana Enforcement Division within the Colorado Department of Revenue has considered pushing the July 1 deadline back, but no decision has been made, officials said this week.
Councilor Dick White asked city staff if a complaint could be filed about the short timeline.
“This is frankly inappropriate behavior on a higher level of government to the detriment of businesses around the state, and it deserves some sort of public complaint,” he said.
While the city is creating a new permit, it also expects to extend the hours of local medical and retail marijuana shops from 8 p.m. to midnight to produce more sales tax and offer consumers an alternative to the black market, said Planning Manager Nicol Killian.
City Manager Ron LeBlanc said owners of retail marijuana shops expect the change will be helpful.
“They think the black market starts when they close,” he said.
Plans to allow infused-marijuana product manufacturing are far less concrete because councilors would like to ask voters to levy an excise tax on the products before allowing the businesses to open.
This would help cover the costs of enforcing state regulations, Killian said.
Any tax would likely be in the 1 to 2 percent range so it would still be cheaper to manufacture products than to ship them in, LeBlanc said.
But it is unclear how the tax would be structured, he said.
So far, the city has received one inquiry about opening this kind of business.
The councilors asked the staff to research marijuana grows and manufacturing further.
However, large grows seemed unpopular among the councilors.
“I think more agricultural use should be in the county,” said Mayor Christina Rinderle.
The need for reliable and clean water has drawn a few of them to locate near the city limits, Killian said.