Parker decisive on marijuana shop ban

Chris Michlewicz
Posted

Parker Town Council faced virtually no public opposition when it unanimously passed regulations prohibiting marijuana businesses from opening in town.

The six-member council approved seven amendments to Parker’s Municipal Code Dec. 3, nearly one month after Amendment 64 was passed by Colorado voters. While some of the measures dealt with parameters for personal cultivation, others barred the retail sale, display and commercial growing of cannabis within town limits. Parker leaders also sought to make clear that the open consumption of marijuana would not be allowed.

“The concern is (people) smoking marijuana in public, say near a park or near a school,” said town attorney Jim Maloney.

A separate amendment to the municipal code established laws against adults providing marijuana to minors, much like penalties for those who buy alcohol for juveniles. Only adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase and possess less than an ounce of pot.

Few residents attended the town council meeting and no one signed up to address the council about the final approval of the amendments. However, Parker resident Burke Harris submitted a letter to be read aloud into the record by mayor David Casiano.

The letter criticized comments made by councilmember Josh Martin in a Nov. 29 Parker Chronicle article about the regulations, when Martin said the council had not considered possible sales tax revenue when deciding on marijuana centers because the town’s financial position is stable. Harris argued that the additional revenue could pay for a much-needed community center for teens. Harris said it could be a “double-win” for kids and adults.

Immediately after the letter was read, mayor-elect Mike Waid produced another letter from Parker resident Amy Braddock, who thanked the council for their vote against marijuana businesses.

Councilmember Gary Lasater said allowing pot shops would “open up a can of worms” and suggested that banning the establishments might attract more residents and ultimately benefit teens. Lasater also said the cost of enforcement of the shops, including age compliance checks and inspections on grow houses, would outweigh any added sales tax revenue.

“It would be a negative at the end of the day,” he said.

Town council could still put the issue to Parker voters, but provisions in Amendment 64 would not allow that to happen until November 2014. The constitutional amendment enables individual communities to prohibit shops, however, discreet personal use of the federally frowned-upon drug will be allowed in Parker.