Cortez pot debate looms

In the New Year, Cortez leaders are expected to spark a debate over the realization of voter-approved marijuana reform. In 2013, the City of Cortez opted to delay repealing prohibition on retail marijuana sales enacting a moratorium on government-monitored recreational marijuana purveyors.

Sunsetting mid-way through 2014, the cloud of prohibition over adults 21 and older in Cortez could finally be lifted.

“I have no idea if the city will go for recreational marijuana or not,” said City Manager Shane Hale. “It’s the city council’s decision.”

In Cortez, Hale said the city decided to take a conservative approach before fully implementing Amendment 64, passing the moratorium to allow state lawmakers additional time to iron out the details.

Without the state’s guidelines, the city could potentially be in jeopardy of unforeseen liabilities, Hale added.

“We decided to take a breath, and see how the law is implemented,” Hale said. “Maybe we would have gotten it right, but maybe not. I don’t want to guess what we should do.”

Another looming factor is that terms of two city council members expire this year, meaning two new faces will join the council in April.

Best estimate, Hale believes next fall would be a realistic timeline before recreational marijuana sales were approved in Cortez.

Ganjapreneurs in Telluride, 75 miles north, received that town’s business licenses on Christmas Eve. Three high-altitude establishments in the mountain town opened on New Year’s Day

tbaker@cortezjournal.com