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Pot Shops In Nucla?

San Miguel Basin Forum of Nucla, Colorado

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Town will ask citizens whether to allow marijuana dispensaries in Nucla

"We were discussing last meeting how we have no money here. I recently went over to Moab with somebody and we passed tons of cars coming this way — those cars are going to Telluride and those cars are going to Ridgway. They are going to Telluride and Ridgway to go to the dispensaries. The income that comes off of the sales tax from the dispensaries is huge," said Nucla Trustee Tammy Gillaspy at the last Nucla Town Board Meeting. "I know it's a controversial subject, but finally it's legal. Nucla would have something going. All we would need is a green cross down in Naturita with an arrow pointing up the hill, put one down at Calamity and one at the power plant and by golly we got all those people coming from Moab, coming over here and they're going to come up here and spend money. And they're going to go in the Merc because they are going to want munchies. If their car breaks down they are going to go to the body shop. They are going to learn our area."

Several in town have realized the cash crop ready to harvest and it equivalents into a lot of green. During the meeting one of the town's discussed made $203,912.85 from January through September. The town isn't mentioned for privacy reasons but has a similar demography as Nucla and for that time period had only one pot shop until just recently when a second opened their doors.

It was said at Nucla's meeting that there are several people ready to step up to the plate and get the ball rolling. As far as hashing out the legal technicalities, Gillaspy stated: "You do what Telluride did — we get a hold of Telluride and find out what their laws for this are and we do the same thing.... rather than reinvent the wheel."

"I think it should be something we put on the election ballot," said Trustee Les Mahannah. "I just don't think it should be something the board should decide."

"Agreed," declared Nucla Mayor Dawna Morris.

"I think the citizens need to speak up, I don't think it needs to be the board."

"I really believe that would be the only fair way," Mahhanah added.

Trustee Richard Craig said that there would need to be two issues on the ballot: one for shops and the other for commercial grow operations.

However, in further conversation it was revealed that the former question would be a mute point because there is a citizen voted ban on commercial grow operations within the County with the exception of two operations that were grand-fathered in before the ballot issue.

Trustee Mark Jones said he was approached by citizens two months ago on the subject and so he did some research and said that he found about 65% of the citizens are against having a pot shop ordinance in Nucla.

He then went to Montrose County and asked what was doable in town.

"What we can really do and what we can't do?"

"Here's the thing the County moratorium made by the county commissioners shut down dispensaries in the whole county, but since we as a town are a separate entity — we have the right to establish a dispensary if we choose to," he stated. "However, on the other side of that — grow operations was a voted thing by the voters of Montrose County. All of Montrose County — the majority-voted against grow operations in Montrose County, therefore, it is illegal to have a commercial grow operation anywhere in Montrose County. It can't be grown in town, it can't be grown anywhere."

Nucla Clerk Tracy Smith also pointed out another issue which could be a game changer.

She also did some research on the subject and talked to a clerk from another town with related issues and was told that "the biggest problem they run into was, and why they haven't actually done it, where they are is that Montrose County is our police force and they do not enforce Town stuff and so therefore if there are any issues at that shop, our law enforcement will not enforce anything. They will not go there. They will not enforce the town rules, they won't do anything because Montrose County is a law enforcement and they have a moratorium."

The Montrose County Sheriff's Office was called to get there input on: if they would do any law enforcement at the pot shops since it was pointed out that even if it was an armed robbery, they wouldn't be able to get involved because of the County moratorium, but Sheriff Rick Dunlap was out of town and Undersheriff Adam Murdie was in a meeting and weren't called in enough time to allow them to return a phone call before press time.

It was discussed that the pot shops would provide their own security, since no law enforcement would be involved unless the Town brought back the Marshal's service. It was pointed out that the Town could have a Marshal with the proceeds.

However, Smith said that the clerk she had talked to said the shops wouldn't generate the revenue to afford funding a Marshal's Dept.

"I think the voters need to know that Montrose County Sheriff's Dept can't take care of legal problems," said Mahannah. "I think that needs to be up front."

"I'm personally against it no matter how much money it makes, but I think it should be up to the voters," he added

"Les and I are on the same page," added Morris.

"Morally it's not my thing."

"I can see a lot of advantages to it and I can see a lot of disadvantages to it and I think we shouldn't do it," said Mahannah.

The Board in the end passed a resolution to put the decision of allowing recreation/medical marijuana dispensaries in town on this coming April's ballot if there is time to submit it.

They stated that they will hash out all the details, limits and requirements later if citizens give a thumbs up.

(I will work on getting the MCSO opinion on their involvement limits concerning pot shops in a later edition. TW)

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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