Marijuana: Many ski towns allowing recreational pot sales

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Last week, Telluride officially approved sales of recreational cannabis, joining a majority of other tourism-reliant ski towns around the state that have given an okay to the ganja. Telluride took one of the easiest routes to retail-weed approval possible, with the city council voting in an application and regulatory system nearly identical to the one that existing medical marijuana dispensaries must follow. According to the Telluride Daily Planet, MMCs have been operating for years there with no trouble.

And since Amendment 64 passed by a wide margin, recreational sales didn't have much opposition.

In April, Summit County commissioners voted to allow recreational marijuana sales and cultivation there as well. However, certain towns within Summit County have placed limitations on the industry. Frisco and Silverthorne will both allow the shops but are considering limiting the number of dispensaries to just a handful in each town.

Silverthorne is planning on putting a proposal for a 5 percent excise tax on cannabis sales before voters in November. Breckenridge has banned any new medical and recreational shops from opening up in the downtown area and is forcing the lone existing dispensary, Breckenridge Cannabis Club, to move out once its lease ends in September 2014. The measure was passed on a four-to-one vote in town council, with the majority arguing that they needed to maintain a family friendly feel in the town. The lone dissenting vote came from Councilman Ben Brewer, who argued that if liquor sales are allowed downtown, then cannabis sales should be, too.

In Routt County, Steamboat officials agreed in July to ban recreational sales from their downtown, as well as in any of the storefronts at the base of the ski hill. At the time, several councilmembers told Steamboat Today they are open to expanding zoning for marijuana shops in the future, but they need to see how things pan out in the first few years before revisiting the topic.

Over in Pitkin County, Aspen has four medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating, with a fifth on the way and at least two more in the application process. They hope to win approval before October 1 -- timing that would give them the opportunity to transition to a recreational store on January 1 instead of waiting until October 2014. This is key because the Aspen town council has proposed limiting the number of recreational shops to a number equal to that of medical marijuana shops in town as of October 1.

This plan has seen some support from existing pot-shop owners, but others have pointed out that Aspen doesn't limit the number of liquor licenses and therefore shouldn't restriict recreational marijuana licenses, either. The town has approved the licensing structure for recreational marijuana sales and will charge retailers $2,000 annually for a license to do business in Aspen. The discussion on limiting the number of recreational stores has been pushed back until October.

A similar cap is being discussed in Carbondale, up the road from Aspen.

Other mountain towns that plan to allow recreational cannabis sales include Crested Butte, Silverton and Red Cliff -- which hope to capitalize on a recreational ban in nearby Vail.

More from our Marijuana archive: "War of words, claims of nausea over criticism of free-joint rally" and "Alcohol versus pot DUIs: How do they compare?"

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