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The Jefferson County Commissioners on June 18 adopted an ordinance that prohibits marijuana establishments in unincorporated Jefferson County for the next year and a half. The ordinance, which will run until it sunsets1 on Feb. 1, 2015, temporarily prohibits marijuana businesses while the county gathers information and studies the impacts of the new state law.Voter approval Colorado voters last November approved Amendment 64 regarding the use and sale of marijuana. Voters in Jefferson County passed the amendment to the State Constitution by 54 percent. Local government discretionCounties and cities now may choose to allow the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana testing facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities and retail marijuana stores; or to prohibit such businesses through the enactment of local ordinances. Many questionsThere are many questions about how the constitutional amendment should be implemented. Most of the details must be determined by the State of Colorado and the Department of Revenue. Prior to the June 18 public hearing and vote, the Jeffco Commissioners met with legislators, members of Colorado Counties, Inc., city managers, mayors and city councils, the Jeffco sheriff, district attorney and public health director, police chiefs, school officials and others to discuss the issues that surround implementation of the new state law.Study period needed for clarificationBecause of the need for clarification, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to prohibit marijuana establishments in unincorporated Jeffco until Feb. 2015. The commissioners felt that date should allow sufficient time for the state agencies to work out the implementation details and other questions to be answered. The moratorium could end earlier by a vote of the commissioners if Jefferson County establishes the rules and regulations prior to the February 2015 date.Implementation issues“The voters passed the state amendment and public officials have a responsibility to implement it as well as we can,” Commissioner Casey Tighe commented at the public hearing. “By delaying, we can watch and learn from other jurisdictions. From the emails I received, both pro and con, people are worried about marijuana use by kids. This may be an opportunity with a new structure to reduce marijuana use by kids.”Commissioner Faye Griffin said that, as the state clarifies different portions of the law and information is forthcoming about how the state will address the different issues around implementation, the commissioners will use the time to work with Planning & Zoning staff, law enforcement, and the County Attorney’s Office so everything would be in place should the county decide to allow marijuana establishments when the ordinance sunsets1 in 2015.Commissioner Donald Rosier said Amendment 64 was silent on many issues including consumption locations, growing, transporting, testing and zoning enforcement. “There are so many items that need to be looked at and determined how they will impact the county,” he said. “We support the will of the voters while at the same time we need to establish local planning, zoning and enforcement regulations that address the health and safety of the community. We have a lot of work to do address these issues, but we can’t start until the Governor and Colorado Department of Revenue have hammered out the statewide regulations.” Rosier added that the State Legislature paved the way for a sales tax question on the statewide ballot in November that will allow voters to determine whether they would approve a sales and excise tax on marijuana.”Jeffco ordinance affects unincorporated areasThe ordinance passed by the Jeffco Commissioners only affects the unincorporated portions of Jefferson County. Lakewood, Arvada and other cities may adopt their own ordinances, either opting out or setting up their own frameworks.
1In public policy, a sunset provision or clause is a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. Most laws do not have sunset clauses and therefore remain in force indefinitely.
July 11, 2013
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