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Vail Town Council set to discuss retail marijuana policies again

March 15, 2014, 2:23 pm

The Vail Town Council will once again discuss retail marijuana policies at its evening meeting on Tuesday, March 18.

marijuanaThe issue is listed tenth on Tuesday’s meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers, and there will be opportunities for public comment.

A temporary ban on retail marijuana establishments in the town is currently in place and has been extended twice to allow for additional information gathering. The current ban expires on July 31.

Also in place is a ban on the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the town, which was enacted in 2013. While the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012 allows adults to possess small amounts of recreational marijuana, consumption is banned from all public areas and federal lands, including Vail Mountain.

During Tuesday’s session, Community Development Director George Ruther and Town Attorney Matt Mire will present a series of questions in the event the Town Council would want to consider adoption of a retail marijuana operations policy. Those questions include:

  • What time, place, manner and number of business regulations would the Town Council like to adopt, if any?
  • Does the Town Council wish to allow all types of retail marijuana establishments (i.e., retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana product manufacturing facilities and retail marijuana test facilities, etc.)?
  • Does the Town Council wish to create a licensing structure different from the state licensing structure provided by Amendment 64, such as more restrictive? If so, how should the licensing structure differ?
  • If the Town Council adopts a local licensing structure, is the Council interested in charging an operations fee?  If so, what is the amount (i.e., cost recovery, cost plus, etc.)?
  • Does the Town Council wish to reconsider its policy on medical marijuana centers in Vail? If so, would the Town Council like to allow dual operations (co-location of medical and retail marijuana businesses)?
  • In general terms, where do the Town Council’s policy preferences for regulating retail marijuana establishment operations lie among a spectrum ranging from prohibition to the minimum required by state law?

If the Town Council is interested in pursuing these questions, a series of proposed next steps are recommended to research and assemble information on retail marijuana establishment operations. Sources would include local governments, legal counsel and trade industries, among others. The goal of the effort would be to educate, inform and identify best practices.

The town staff also recommends creation of a Recreational Marijuana Working Group of 10 to 12 members to engage community stakeholders on the issue of retail marijuana establishment operations in the town.

The goal of the group would be to assist in the gathering of relevant and pertinent information on the topic and to assist in the creation of policy options for consideration. The group would have no decision making authority in the final outcome on the issue and would likely meet no more than three times.

Other recommended steps include scheduling a series of work sessions with the Planning and Environmental Commission to discuss possible land use regulation implementation options and strategies as well as regular updates to the Town Council to determine interest in text amendments to the town’s Zoning Regulations and a related ordinance that would address the issue of retail marijuana establishment operations in the Town of Vail.

To review the Town Council memorandum on this topic in its entirety, visit the town’s website at or to forward comments to the Town Council in advance of the March 18 discussion, email

The neighboring communities of Frisco, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen have approved local regulations permitting marijuana sales as well as Eagle County, while the communities of Minturn and Gypsum have enacted bans. A temporary ban is in place in Avon.

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