TOWN OF TELLURIDE BRIEFS
Medical Marijuana Regs Will Be Tweaked… Crime Up …
by Thomas Wirth
May 14, 2011 | 5181 views | 9 9 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>FOND FAREWELL</b> – Outgoing Telluride Schools Superintendent Mary Rubadeau was presented with a Community Service Award at Tuesday's meeting of Telluride Town Council. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
FOND FAREWELL – Outgoing Telluride Schools Superintendent Mary Rubadeau was presented with a Community Service Award at Tuesday's meeting of Telluride Town Council. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
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TELLURIDE – In light of a new state law that will give local jurisdictions new licensing authority, the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday directed town staff to develop new regulations to address signage, venting and the age of pot-shop employees and principals.

New regulations would likely create a licensing agent, modeled on Telluride’s Liquor Licensing Authority, with review of decisions going to council in the event of challenge.

Due to the current location of existing “centers,” formerly know as dispensaries, council decided not to put more onerous limits on the distance of centers from public parks and schools. Currently, centers must be located 500 feet from a school.

A major source of public criticism has been signage. Many members of council reported public unease with the use of signs advertising ice cream, candy and soda, which they believed might be misleading to those not seeking medical marijuana products. One medical marijuana center owner present at the meeting said he supported the intent or new sign regulations, but requested that he still be allowed to inform potential customers of his wares. Staff was directed to explore signage options that might include both text and symbols to inform people of the different products involved.

Smells emanating from centers has also been a frequent topic of complaints, according to some members of council. Although the possibility of dealing with the odors as a nuisance violation under the current Land Use Code already exists, Town Manager Greg Clifton said, he suggested such an avenue might not be the most effective way to deal with the problem. Staff was directed to pursue language that would mandate carbon filters or other such solutions to negate filtration of odors into the public way.

Town Planner Michelle Haynes asked council for direction to create a plan for cultivation of medical marijuana in town limits. While centers need to submit a cultivation plan upon initial licensing, changes are not always reported and she feared that problems dealing with power loads and humidity could adversely affect buildings if they are not more strictly regulated.

AN INCREASE IN THEFTS

Telluride Chief Marshal, James Kolar told the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday that crime in town is up. Class “A” Property offenses and Violent Crime rose approximately 36 percent in 2010 from 2009, “with the most significant changes seen in the categories of Assault, Theft and Burglary.” Less serious Class “B” offenses saw a 22 percent increase in reported crimes, “with Trespass and Disorderly Conduct offenses leading the way.” Kolar also reported that the town had seen a five-year high in number of reported traffic accidents.

TOWN ON BUDGET

Telluride’s financial position seems to be on track, according to Telluride Finance Director Lynne Beck.

“To be at 19.8 percent of target revenue, I feel comfortable,” Beck told the town council on Tuesday.

While Real Estate Transfer Tax revenues were of concern to some on council, Town Manager Greg Clifton said that direct comparison to the previous year can be misleading. “RETT is very erratic,” he said. “I’m happy that we’re less than one half a percentage point off of budgeting.”

While Councilmember Thom Carnavale expressed a wish that the town remain cautious, especially in watching RETT income, Councilmember Chris Myers said that he was happy to see that the conservative budgeting adopted by the town was proving to be successful.

RIDGWAY HYDRO

The Telluride Town Council unanimously approved a letter of support for a Tri-County Water Conservancy District hydropower project at the Ridgway Dam and Reservoir in Ouray County. The project would use the flow through the existing Ridgway Dam and would generate close to 22 million KWH each year, according to Telluride Project Manager Karen Guglielmone, “enough power for approximately 2,000 homes.” The project is projected to be constructed in 2013/2014.

The town’s letter expressed interest in possibly purchasing Renewable Energy Credits sometime in 2014 or 2015, but fell short of a commitment to do so due to the volatility of the energy market and the apparent inability to commit future town budgets to the expenditure. Members of council lauded the project as part of a “multi-pronged effort” to bring greener energy to the region by looking beyond individual municipalities to create more effective energy solutions.

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FaceOnMars
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May 22, 2011
skifish: hopefully, you will never have to find out first hand about whether or not MMJ helps with chemo or debilitating chronic pain. While I'd never rush to give a child ANY medication for AD/HD, I certainly wouldn't consider Ritalin/Focusin any more "legitimate", let alone safer for kids. Moreover, I don't think it's quite as black and white as you allude to ... my guess is there are quite a few bad backs, knees, shoulders, etc. in town which are suitable candidates for MMJ versus Vicodin or other opiate derived pharmacuetical products.

As far as mixed-use buildings which are apparently having "issues" (according to your account), why not just let the building owners sort it out vs. legislating at the municipal level what is acceptable use when there are already a relatively obtrusive set of regulatory ordinances? I believe there was a coop in NYC which very recently adopted a no-smoking rule at a residential building. I believe it required a super-majority, but it passed overwhelmingly. While I think this pushes the envelope a bit, I believe it's a much more fair solution vs. involving government legislation.

The more I think about it, the more this whole reactionary "movement" (by a handful with special interests, in my estimation) is akin to an HOA which has outgrown it's briches and is no longer content making up rules and bylaws only for the HOA & has set it's sights on controlling the official government regulatory process with respect to issues it has a stake ... regardless of how it affects the community (or free market) as a whole.

Just as council member David Oyster seems to have an issue with the "State of Colorado telling Telluride what to do all the time" (to paraphrase), I also have a very big problem with a group of seven individuals DICTATING terms to the local free market & the town residents ... who also happen to be Colorado residents who may have voted in favor of the MMJ provision. I've always considered Oyster to be somewhat reasonable, but I believe he might have missed the irony on this front. Maybe he truly believes his voice inherently carries the implicit support of his constituents simply because he was elected?

I know the standard response about representative government being a "legitimate" vehicle, blah blah blah ... and I agree to an extent (vs. that of a monarchy, etc.), but I'm one to always favor a direct democratic approach wherever possible given that there's an inherent layer of "Gortex" as a front line of defense against special interests which have historically contaminated representational governing systems.

Because some towns have voted to ban MMJ centers does not make it "right". I think the reasoning is grounded in what we're witnessing unfold before our eyes right here in Telluride: fear is motivating some existing business owners to protect their personal interests. As a general rule, businesses are typically more "connected" to the political process & will lobby that much harder on issues which they feel will affect them directly.

In Telluride, my suspicion is that maybe 5-10% (tops) of the business population are vocally opposed, but you'll have another 25% who are in clear agreement and willing to ride the coattails of the vocal minority. Then there might be a sizeable chunk (40-60%) in the middle which are ambivalent & maybe another 10% minority who are opposed on principle. Still, the decision ought not ultimately be up to the existing businesses ... as it would = Fox guarding hen house. But all it takes is having enough of those 5-10% to whip up a frenzy & it becomes a political football of sorts forcing elected officials to stake out ground. This is my best guess as to why "some towns have voted to ban MMJ centers".

So, if it came down to one or the other, yes, I'd prefer there to be a direct vote of the citizens of Telluride ... even though personally believe it to be a "non-issue".

Re: your question about proximity to schools: I'd go along with whatever regulations are currently on the books which applies to pharmacies in this respect. <-- see how easy it is when we don't create quasi in limbo classifications akin to "enemy combatants".

As far as your apparent proposal to establish what might be deemed as a "red light district" of sorts: would you require the two traditional pharmacies also be confined to such an area? Given the realities of the real estate market in Telluride, I don't see this as even being a logistically viable course. I also don't support what is essentially being pushed as an 'embedded red light district' either! ... since it's a false equivalence as I've already addressed in prior posts.

Boots will always be on the ground in Telluride, I believe it's silly to think the availability of a particular plant to those who have a prescription from a doctor will change this fact!
skifish
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May 19, 2011
Mr Face...I'll have to admit, you almost had me convinced, almost....

I'll categorize myself as the latter. I still believe the "jury" is out on the medicinal benefits of MMJ. I think if you have cancer and going through chemo...what the hell, toke, or vaporize all you want. Prescriptions for childhood ADD?, or inner ear infections? I'm not there, and probably won't be.

Yes, absolutely, we should be somewhat selective as to the image we are presenting to the suburban family visitor. Just as we tried, or are attempting to , prevent real estate offices from occupying first floor commercial spaces, in the commercial core. I think that could translate to MMJ centers.

We have to have them legally, but do they need to be "in our face"? Is it more appropriate, or viable, to have them in off-main locations?

As a point of reference, as to the outside world perception, in buildings, where the MMJ centers are located, and the buildings are mixed use, the other inhabitants of the buildings are having difficulty obtaining insurance, and property values have decreased dramatically, making those spaces unsaleable, and uninsureable. The effects of the MMJ centers are far reaching. If you had purchased a condo and then a MMJ center moved in below you, you are screwed.

Are you in favor of having the MMJ centers not occupying spaces near schools and parks?

Are you in favor of putting the MMJ existence on a ballot for a vote?

Why do you think, if it is legal to have a MMJ center in a town, that so many towns and municipalities have voted to ban them?

As for a marketing return on MMJ's, the "boots on the ground" tell me otherwise. I'm all for sales dollars wherever it comes from, but my experience tells me that only the Dorito vendors are benefiting. I kid of course.....

As for Bluegrass, you are probably right on it!
FaceOnMars
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May 19, 2011
skifish, you stated: "Too much of a leap to the marijuana as medicine argument".

Were you suggesting that MMJ can't be used for medicinal purposes? Or, that the perception is too much of a leap for "the masses" to grasp in light of the illegal nature elsewhere?

If it's the former, then I'm not sure anything I say will convince you otherwise ... and please know I do realize the system almost certainly gets abused by some.

If it's the latter, then you might be suggesting that Telluride ought engage in "extra regulation" to insure that some visitor's lack of an ability to assimilate information which is different from their "world view" is catered to by altering Telluride's environment to conform to their belief systems?

Again, the 'facts on the ground' are extremely clear to me ... an MMJ center is essentially a pharmacy which specializes in a particular medication/drug. I think this is where you and others have really missed the point ... you just can't point to the "skewed perceptions" of some regarding marijuana use to somehow be granted license to associate a MMJ centers with strip clubs and adult book shops. It's a false equivalence (and would be an entirely separate question).

The fact that Telluride is located in Colorado and a statewide ballot measure was approved re: MMJ just can't be denied. IMO, it's revisionism to state or allude otherwise.

skifish, I see where you're coming from and don't blame you for trying to do what you believe to be best for business ... but I think we might have a categorical difference with respect to what should trump what.

Telluride has never been a replica of suburban life. I'm not saying to market Telluride as an "Amsterdam" by any means; however, I also don't believe it's necessary to craft ordinances which are designed to manipulate the perceptions visitors ... possibly at great expense (and inequity) to some retailer but not others. For one, I don't believe it's fair. Second it doesn't promote an open and healthy free market.

For all you know, you might very well be underestimating what might simply be a much greater marketing return on the presence of MMJ centers than you realize. More "progressive visitors" may very well now look at Telluride in even greater awe (maybe that's why bluegrass sold out so soon this year?). I'm not suggesting people will come because of the actual presence of MMJ, but rather their support of the politics behind it. Or would these sorts of visitors fill the "wrong kind of hotbeds"?
skifish
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May 18, 2011
Mr face....

Valid points to be sure, if "legality" were the issue.

My reference point is one of, like it or not, perception from what is undeniably the life blood of the town, which is tourist money and second home owner traffic to the town. If that were to decline, even more than what is occurring, than we might as well be Rico, or Silverton.

Is MMJ legal? yes. Is it a business model we should have on the Main drag? I my estimation, no.

Whether or not it is legal to have minors go into a MMJ center is not the point.

If you are visiting the town, from suburban wherever, do you want your kids walking into a MMJ center?

Reality...Kids walk into a Walgreens, Reality, marijuana is illegal, even in Colorado. Too much of a leap to the marijuana as medicine argument. Correct me if I'm wrong, but where this issue to have MMJ centers has come to a vote, it has been banned in almost every instance. That leads me to believe that the vast majority of people don't want to have these centers in their community.

I understand Telluride loves their drugs, medicinal or not, I just think we should have had the right to vote on it.

To your point, is ANY business acceptable? Strip joint? Asian Massage? Adult movie theater? Dildo shop? All legal, but do you want them here?

would love your input.
FaceOnMars
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May 18, 2011
RFP: didn't realize that about liquor stores not being able to sell such items. I guess soda pop has been made an exception for one reason or another?

Yes, my take is also that feds are going to start tightening down. So much for "change". Then again, I knew when Obama came out against California Prop 19 that he's just another, yet more sophisticated carnival barker. I don't care if he just "had to stake out ground"; that's a politician's game - the major implication of his campaign platform was that he was supposed to elevate our country beyond such pettiness & political game playing. I no longer trust him to work anything from the inside. While better than Bush & Co., he's simply a "lite" version on many many fronts.

I've digressed. While it might seem appropriate to use a Liquor store as an analogous situation, I believe it's entirely off the mark as being an equivalent comparison. Since when does one need a doctor's script to get a bottle of wine? Clearly, an MMJ center shares the most attributes with a pharmacy vs. any other type of entity in terms of a profile if we are to consider regulatory purposes.

What might be abuses of the system is not sufficient to alter this profile to match that of a liquor store. Go after the abuse, but lets not warp the intent of the provision which Colorado residents had approved by majority vote.

While I'm for general legalization of marijuana, this belief is not driving me to defend the MMJ centers ... it is much moreso due to the arbitrary and selective manner by which "another set of rules" is being applied to this sector of the market vs. all other business & those which already have a similar profile (i.e. pharmacies). It's almost akin to being an "enemy combatant". It's simply NOT being a good steward of the free market & is staking a step in the deck stacking direction. There's just too much of this going on around here at every turn in subtle ways it makes me want to throw up already.

My suggestion to council: make better use the tools available which are currently on the books to address any infractions of laws, ordinances, or codes.

I can see how it could be worrisome when you stand back and look at the per capita rate of MMJ centers here in Telluride ... it could be the highest in the state. But also remember, it's still kind of riding that first initial big wave ... so once that wave diminishes in strength, there's a good chance we'll see the market sort itself out in terms of a reduction of the number of MMJ centers.
ResponsibleFreePress
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May 17, 2011
Hello Mr. Face and Mr. Ski Fish-

I don't have any interest in the subject matter but will point out that liquor stores are not allowed to sell gum and candy ...

Tried to buy a candy bar at the store next to Smugglers and was informed that liquor stores are not allowed to offer these types of products..

Read, though, in Investors Business Daily that the Feds are really going to tighten up the med marj businesses..start cracking down as it is still a federal offense to sell pot in every state including Colorado...

Should sell the business now..

Ok, toke em up, boys.
FaceOnMars
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May 17, 2011
skifish: with respect to signage, I understand the crux of the issue seems to be about the content; however, I believe censoring MMJ centers' sign content is approaching the issue from the wrong direction. If it's exclusively an issue regarding harm which has befallen minors in the past, then go after the offense which was directly responsible for such ... but let's make sure there's truly an offense committed. I'm not so sure whether a minor going into the front/public area of a MMJ center is illegal or not? This is not to say I can't still see how many would feel this is not a desired outcome. If this is not illegal, then there's technically not an offense. If it is illegal, then possibly require some sort of buffer/waiting area for credential verification ... at least this would be a regulation in accordance with state law (if it's in fact illegal).

If a minor is somehow able to make an illegal purchase of an item, then go after the offending centers in such a way to send a message that any slips up will not be tolerated & could jeopardize their very existence if another infraction occurs. This way, it won't be a game of cat and mouse as to what's allowable and what's not ... if they goof up, they're gonna pay the price and thus self regulate on this front.

But lets back up here for a second, there's a TOY SECTION in the Sunshine Pharmacy! When's the last time a 10 year old wandered into Sunshine Pharmacy because of toys in the window and came out with a bottle of Vicodin? I'd bet everything I own the answer would be a resounding "never"!

It seems you're advocating for a set of rules which is predicated upon what is "best for business" ... but who's business? I really don't believe there's an easy answer to this question, as obvious as it might appear to some. One of the great things about the free market is that it is ideally supported very well by a broad and open foundation vs. a closed or restrictive set of parameters - provided the basic ground rules are followed by all.

As to the flowers on main street: the issue isn't whether someone complains, but rather whether a quantifiable threshold (which might be termed a "nuisance") has been breached in either case? It's similar to the whole deal a while back re: old Bubble Lounge owners wanting to see the noise ordinance quantified. I agreed 100% & would apply the same logic here.
skifish
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May 17, 2011
Mr Face....

A few items for you to consider:

- Signage is an issue. Not the physical sign, but what is on it. Can't advertise "ice-cream & cookies" and not expect kids to go in...yes, it has happened!

- Yes, we are a tourist area. Yes, having Med Marj Centers are bad for business. Sorry, it just is. We live in a larger world that a VAST majority of people perceive marijuana as illegal and harmful. In 99% of municipalities where this went to a vote, it was voted to ban the centers. Don't forget, this was never brought to election in Telluride for voters to decide. Much like the bag ban, it just happened.

I think the council is on the right track for once, by enacting strict regulations. As a business owner on Main street, I can tell you I get complaints from tourists having to explain to their kids what that smell is coming from LSMFT.

Never had one complaint about flower smell however!
FaceOnMars
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May 15, 2011
In the absence of valid and reliable empirical data which supports any sort of claim of there being a health risk from exposure to unsmoked/raw marijuana, the same nuisance laws ought to apply equally across the board for all business entities. This includes coffee shops/carts, bakeries, etc. Apple Fritter = MMJ as far as I'm concerned. What about the flowers which the Town of Telluride hangs from the light posts? Why are those flowers' odor/aroma OK, but another species is not? I realize these examples might seem silly to some at first read, but think it through & you might agree that ultimately there is not really a substantial difference. I believe any ordinance along these lines would be arbitrary.

Same thing with signs. The town's current set of ordinances with respect to signs are almost over the top at the moment, why the need for a separate standard for retail establishments who essentially occupy the same footprint/profile of a storefront as "traditional" retailers? My suspicion is there are already sufficient legal instruments to remedy instances of "false advertising" or that which is in violation of any other established law.

If I were a dispensary/center operator, I'd seek legal council - maybe even team up with other centers - to explore my options to fight such a measure and to seek damages to the extent that the Town of Telluride would think twice about enacting such regressive legislation in the future.

Say what you'd like about marijuana, I'm simply seeking to flush out the inequities in what is clear to me to be a case where a particular sector of the market is encumbered with unreasonable and arbitrary regulations.

I just don't think "what will the visitors think" to be a valid legal or "moral" backstop. In fact, it's paper thin at best. Lets face it, that's the unspoken concern of the proponents of "special regulations" and those who whisper in the ears of politicians to lobby for their interests. Apparently, in Vail such a mentality prevailed. We want insure the tourist / tax dollars keep flowing ... so we are going to make a special set of rules for and single out what the state has sanctioned as a legitimate industry.

This is not to say there aren't abuses & real concerns. I just think the council is taking an entirely misguided trajectory on this matter. Personally, I'd suggest to simply adopt a very low tolerance for non trivial infractions of existing laws/ordinances (applied equally across the board) and up the penalties for violations deemed to be more significant.

I believe the council also figuratively made a "Freudian slip" in so far as relegating mmj to the purvue of a regulation entity which emulates the Liquor Licensing Authority. Since when was alcohol prescribed by a doctor as a regular course of treatment? Maybe council is hesitant to drag the now two pharmacies into the picture?

Good grief, I know many on council have a broad enough perspective to understand and support a non arbitrary approach to regulation which doesn't use a special yardstick ... hopefully enough will speak up or even make a stand & not give in to this special interest's objectives or simply a regressive conservative philosophy. How about crafting a progressive set of regulations which doesn't use a different set of rules and serving as a model for other municipalities? Wasn't that one of the goals with the plastic bag ban?

This whole thing kinda reminds me of the episode of M.A.S.H. where Frank gets to be in command for a few days, so he forces the entire camp to move ... feeling it's his duty to do SOMETHING (even though there wasn't truly a need).