BoCC hears report on recreational marijuana

Staff Writer

Recreational marijuana sales have been allowed in Colorado for nine days, but hold on to your wallets — the product is not available to purchase for recreational use in Archuleta County.


Following a timeline that would see a recreational marijuana ordinance put into effect in May (assuming the Board of County Commissioners approves it), the BoCC heard a report Tuesday about the issues that must be considered in drafting and enacting a recreational marijuana ordinance.

County attorney Todd Starr gave the report to commissioners Clifford Lucero and Steve Wadley (commissioner Michael Whiting was out of town).

In his report, Starr told the commissioners that the Retail Marijuana Steering Committee comprises Starr; Rich Valdez, undersheriff; Sherrie Vick, planning technician; John Ruyle, building official; Annette DeGraaf, administrative assistant; and Tonya McCann, paralegal.

That group, Starr said, has spoken with other places around the state to determine what issues are being faced in regards to implementing recreational retail sales following the passage of Amendment 64 by Colorado voters.

Starr then broke down the potential issues that were gathered by the department they would fall under.

Those issues, as said by Starr, are:

• Regulation on grow facilities.

In addition to concerns about regulations, Starr noted that district attorneys throughout the state are making marijuana a low priority.

• Robberies.

• “Undesirables.”

Starr said one issue the group collected was that “undesirables,” such as the unemployed, would be attracted to the community and that, as a result, there could be more crime and more of a demand on social services.

• Water well rights.

Starr noted that domestic water cannot be used for agricultural purposes.

• Medical calls.

Starr mentioned concerns over pesticides and fertilizers used on marijuana plants in some places that have made end-users of the product ill.

Later, Starr told the commissioners of a study completed by National Jewish, a hospital in Denver, that studies over 100 indoor grow operations and discovered over 25 different kinds of toxic molds and mold spores.

That study concluded that grow facilities should be treated like meth labs and other biohazards.

• Law enforcement.

Starr said every county the steering committee spoke with cited trouble with enforcing laws.

• Remediation of facilities formerly used for marijuana operations.

• Air and waste quality.

Starr said other locations have had issues with air quality near grow and sale facilities for both medical and retail marijuana.

Starr also noted there were concerns about the proper disposal of waste from the facilities.

Later, Lucero noted that special conditions for hazardous waste exist and would have to be met for waste with remnants of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Related, but mentioned later, was odor control.

• Permit transparency.

Starr said other locations reported difficulty with knowing if a building was being used as permitted.

• Determining standards.

While building and fire codes exist for a variety of specific industries, there is no such code for the marijuana industry, Starr said, meaning the county would have to determine what codes apply.

• Fire prevention and suppression.

• Lodging facilities allowing or disallowing smoking of marijuana.

Following informing the commissioners of the list of concerns, Starr said the steering committee will be holding two upcoming work sessions in January with a variety of entities that would potentially be affected by county legislation allowing recreational marijuana (such as health and water), as well as representatives of the two licensed medical marijuana operations in the county.

Starr said he will begin to draft the ordinance.

According to the county’s timeline, an ordinance is expected to be up for adoption in April. Adoption of any ordinance allowing recreational marijuana and detailing requirements for operation would be subject to two public hearings.

Winding down his report, Starr spoke of the potential for a substantial financial impact on Archuleta County by allowing retail marijuana, but said that any regulations need to be encompassing and protect the health, safety and welfare of county citizens and honor community support expressed by voting in favor of Amendment 64.

Wadley said he hopes regulations won’t be, “overly onerous.”

He also noted that perhaps the regulations should include a provision that if a location has been used for marijuana operations in the past, it be disclosed to future tenants.

The Town of Pagosa Springs allows neither medical marijuana operations nor recreational marijuana operations within town boundaries.

While Amendment 64 makes pot much more accessible and public, several laws still apply, including the following.

In Colorado, adults 21 and over are allowed to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

Regardless of the retail sale of marijuana, the product cannot be smoked in public and driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal.

This story was posted on January 9, 2014.

14 Responses to BoCC hears report on recreational marijuana

  1. littledrummerboy

    January 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    let me get this straight. county attorney todd starr says unemployed “undesirables” will flock to pagosa springs once marijuana sales are allowed. i’d like him to expand on this idiotic statement. what exactly will these so called undesirables do in/to our community that we should be so afraid of? please tell me mr. starr, how recreational pot sales will attract and benefit these terrible low-lifes. i really want to know how his foresight is intended to protect us. he seems to be trying to scare us into believing that ending prohibition somehow creates crime waves. let me tell you mr starr, that stuff you are frightening us with is what happens when marijuana is ILLEGAL, you dishonest, fear-mongering obstructionist! and another thing, while i am ranting – isn’t having a law enforcement officer on the retail marijuana committee just as much a conflict of interest as having a stoner or dope dealer on the committee? people have been selling and using marijuana in pagosa springs for decades. do we really want to continue to encourage illegal drug dealing in our town and schools, or do we want to regulate it? the time for sensible policy is loooong overdue. thanks to jerks like mr. starr, the transition will be long and difficult. the whole world is changing their antiquated, fearful views on cannabis. and colorado is a leader in the movement. let us not embarrass ourselves. the world is watching!

  2. Read the Article

    January 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Instead of ranting, read the article! It’s really a lot more than smoking a joint. He addresses most of the issues needed you are just adding nonsense from lack of open minded intelligence.

  3. littledrummerboy

    January 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    i read every word of the article, as i do with every single published account of the end of cannabis prohibition. i know more about the history of marijuana than you could possibly comprehend. you obviously still buy into the 1970’s nixon-era anti-drug propaganda, and failed to address any of the points i made. you can’t win a debate if you don’t listen. what exactly is your point? apparently you agree with mr. starr’s laughable assertion that a marijuana garden is as hazardous as a meth lab. his entire position is based on fear and mis-information. and if you fail to apply the same scrutiny to the alcohol industry, then you are a hypocrite. you want to debate me? i dare you!

  4. Haha

    January 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    But what about those 37 people I read about that died from marijuana overdoses last week?!? Oh yea, crap propaganda like the rest of what has been spewed to keep this prohibition on course. Why is this an issue for our town? Because we have it so good that this is what people have time to worry about. Get a grip, take 2 steps back, and worry about things that matter. Radiation, anyone?

  5. Read the Article

    January 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Run for Mayor if you want change and are such a great citizen, I hear there’s an opening there!

  6. littledrummerboy

    January 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    the change is already here. i am not the one resisting. that’s kinda my whole point

  7. Read the Article

    January 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Well then that’s what you should say rather than judging, putting words or ideas in peoples comments and wanting them to debate a non debate. Where a single point from the author was blown out of proportion. Sometimes we learn by letting others pave the way and then we see the mistakes and failures as well as successes to be able to handle a situation best. At least that’s what I got from the whole article.

  8. littledrummerboy

    January 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    you should never use a lawyer as a source of information. they have spent may years learning how to manipulate the truth in order to further an agenda. allow me to blow a few more points out of proportion for you: mr. starr is saying that no one is allowed to use domestic water for agricultural purposes. if the pot growers can’t use the water, then neither can you water your houseplants with it nor have a vegetable garden at home. it’s the law and we must abide, right? he says there are air quality issues near grow facilities. this is just a made-up lie. plants give off oxygen as their waste. does that sound like an air quality issue to you? of course not. he also makes a similar claim that there is a problem with the waste water. none of which is any more toxic or hazardous than any other water that is properly disposed of and treated. he is implying that grow facilities are dumping their water everywhere, instead of using the sewers just like everybody else. then he goes on to absurdly claim that pot smokers are getting sick from all the chemicals used as fertilizers and pesticides. yes, he made this little “fact” up as well. the assertion that grow facilities should be treated like meth labs and other biohazards is the icing on the cake. he should be arrested for trying to compare the two. you may think it best to sit back and let others pave the way so we can learn from their mistakes and failures, but that’s not we do when we as a state are LEADING this historical global shift. this is your opportunity to educate yourself on this topic. i have just given you a bunch of examples of the amount of mis-information that is being presented to the public. try to look beyond the fear tactics for once, and realize that marijuana is not the boogeyman our government has spent the last 75 years lying to us about.

  9. Max Artifice

    January 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Wow. You sure are stupid. You seem to have no idea whatsoever about the purpose of Mr. Starr’s report.

    If you can put the bong down for a second or two and focus your dope addled mind on something other than where you left the bag of Cheetos I will try and explain it to you.

    The Board of County Commissioners is simply doing their duty. It’s called “due diligence” and they perform it for EVERYTHING that comes before them for consideration. They form a steering committee for any issue that is controversial or for which there is no precedent. The committee engages in “fact finding” and prepares a report. The BOCC uses the report to render a decision. That is what responsible people who have been entrusted to make decisions on behalf of voters do.

    Of course, in your demented little world, the BOCC should just take your word for everything. Damn, you are stupid.

  10. littledrummerboy

    January 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    just because i am stupid, drug addled, irresponsible, live in a demented world and lost my cheetos doesn’t mean you need to be abusive. jerk.

  11. Max Artifice

    January 13, 2014 at 8:42 am

    “i couldn’t help but notice you completely failed to address or refute any of the numerous erroneous and misleading claims made by mr. starr”

    That is because there is no point in addressing specious claims.

    (and the name calling started in your original post so it seemed to me that this was the mode of communication that you preferred)

  12. pagosasun

    January 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Please be aware of the site’s commenting policy. You can find the link at the bottom of this page. No personal attacks of any kind are acceptable.

  13. Max Artifice

    January 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Perhaps you should then direct your attention to the commenter who refers to Mr. Starr as an “idiot” and a “jerk”

  14. littledrummerboy

    January 13, 2014 at 11:04 am

    max, allow me to illuminate: i was being passionately critical of a news figure while you were being abusive to a commenter on the forum, the purpose of which is to allow readers to express their differing views and opinions and engage in respectful debate.