Dolores passes on medical pot sale

Town officials vote to ban retail sales of pot for two years

Medical marijuana retail stores will be banned in Dolores for two years, following a 5-2 vote by the town council.

Town officials cited overwhelming bureaucratic red tape and the possibility that the stores could cost the town more money than they would generate in the form of additional sales tax.

“The stores in Cortez aren’t making that big of a contribution to the sales tax and the time spent by law enforcement officers is more,” said Mike Green, Dolores Town Attorney.

Green continued that Cortez has seen rises in burglaries and shoplifting at the retail medical marijuana stores. Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said that having such stores in Dolores could mean having to increase the town’s contract with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department, however no representative of the Sheriff’s Department was at the meeting Monday.

“I don’t know if this would provide a cash flow for you, so it’s a question if you want to subsidize it,” Green said.

Mahoney said money could be better spent elsewhere.

“We are trying to improve trails and parks, to me, that is a better investment right now,” Mahoney said.

The board did indicate that they were not completely against the idea of medical marijuana retail stores in town and would revisit the issue again in two years. Dolores, in the past, had two medical marijuana stores. One closed down after a few months and another closed down once stringent state regulations took effect.

“Let the other municipalities spend the money and figure out how to regulate. We can come back and cherry pick the best regulations from them,” Mahoney said.

The board opened the issue up to a public hearing, but no one attended the meeting, so the public hearing was quickly closed.

“I wanted to hear how people felt and there is nobody here,” Courtney Hart chastised.

Trustee Mark Youngquist said he felt banning the stores for now was a good idea.

“It’s a moving target; until it stops moving, I don’t see any point in shooting at it,” he said.

Currently, it is unclear if the state can provide funds to enforce state-mandated regulations on the industry and there is also news that in November a ballot issue will ask voters to legalize marijuana for everyone, Green told the board.

Trustees Megan Waterman and Colette Heeney, voted against the ban. On Monday, they did not give explanation for their votes but at the last board meeting, Waterman said she felt uncomfortable voting to ban something simply because of the amount of bureaucratic red tape.

In other action, board members voted 7-0 on a new set of regulations that spell out health, safety and building codes for those that are deemed by the state as medical marijuana caregivers and grow medicine for their patients inside their homes in Dolores.

“It’s a public safety ordinance. It is in no way supposed to hinder,” Green said. “We don’t want extension cords and fires.”

In other news, the sales tax report was discussed and it looks like the numbers continue to be volatile.

Mahoney discussed sales tax for the month. Numbers were a few thousand dollars down over last year, but up from the two years before that. For the year, the town is down about $6,335 in sales tax revenue over last year.

The final numbers for the playground improvement project were reviewed Monday by the town board members. The project cost about $7,165 in supplies. The Greater Dolores Action contributed $700 and Montezuma County contributed $3,000 toward the improvements. Town officials say they have been getting lots of compliments on the improvements.

The Town Board is expected to meet again next Monday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. inside Town Hall, 420 Central Ave. The meeting will be a workshop-type meeting and board members are expected to discuss economic development.