When the Snowmass Village Town Council makes its final decision about whether to allow retail sales of marijuana within the town borders, where people can partake of the legal drug remains unchanged, according to Police Chief Brian Olson.
Private residences or businesses that don’t have a liquor license are still the only locations where adults may legally smoke or ingest cannabis. That’s in keeping with state law and follows how Aspen regulates pot usage, Olson said Monday.
Recently, the Snowmass Village Marketing, Group Sales and Special Events Board told the town council that it didn’t oppose the establishment of retail and medical marijuana shops as long as they were regulated and placed in unobtrusive locations.
Guest feedback, potential loss of tax revenue and an attitude that “they will buy it elsewhere anyway” factored into the board’s decision, which was decided by a 5-1 vote. Consideration had been given to Snowmass’ family-friendly reputation, but the other factors were deemed more important by the majority of the board.
Council has asked for input from a variety of segments of the community as it moves toward the expiration of the moratorium on pot shops in October. A moratorium on retail dispensaries has been in place since September 2013.
The town could decide to allow sales, ban them altogether or ask voters for the final say.
In the aftermath of the marketing board’s recent 5-1 decision some have wondered: If sales were to be permitted, where could people use marijuana in the village? Colorado voters in 2012 voted to legalize sales of recreational marijuana through Amendment 64, though the measure allows communities to just say no to the businesses if they so choose. Snowmass has yet to make a final decision on dispensaries.
Edibles are easier
While the perfume of pot smoke is not unusual to smell in Town Park or on Fanny Hill during the Thursday night free concert series or the Labor Day festival, it is illegal to use on public property, according to Olson. He said officers don’t bust people at concerts and said that JAS employs people for security.
JAS president and CEO Jim Horowitz said by email on Monday, “JAS is not involved at all. Colorado state law is applicable.” He directed specific questions about pot consumption and/or public smoking to the town and authorities.
“We would [enforce] if we came upon it,” Olson said. “But we have opted in the past to not charge into a crowd” at a concert venue.
Consumption of edibles, while less obtrusive, is also prohibited on public property, Olson said.
“It doesn’t matter who owns the property. If you have an event that’s open to the public, it’s a public place,” he added.
Three years ago during the Food & Wine Classic, an individual’s request for permission to host a private function in a Snowmass Village restaurant where marijuana products would be featured was denied. Olson said a main reason was because the establishment held a liquor license.
Edibles are allowed on private property in Snowmass Village, whereas smoking and vaping products may only be used in those properties that allow smoking, according to Olson.
Tourist rentals such as hotels and condominiums are overwhelming weighed toward non-smoking, according to Mary Harris, general manager of the Timberline Condominiums.
Smoking in a non-smoking unit will cost a guest a $250 fine, according to Harris. She said no differentiation is made whether the smoke is cigarette or marijuana smoke.
“It’s mostly cigarettes. People who stand between the stained-glass door and the balcony. Then the smoke goes back into the unit,” she said. Guests are warned first before being fined, and Harris said the number of people who are affected is small.
She said she also believes that “pot smoking in the units has gone down because it’s legal. I think it’s the edibles” that have caused that change, she said.
Bob Fike, a part-time resident and owner who rents out a unit, said Monday he feels guests should know the facts and not have unrealistic expectations about being able to consume at will.
“I am concerned that visitors leave disappointed. I feel we should provide some education/information regarding the smoking of marijuana in Snowmass Village, to manage their pre-arrival expectations,” Fike said by email.
Meant for private use
Linda Consuegra, an assistant police chief for the city of Aspen, was clear on the sometimes foggy subject of where marijuana may be consumed.
“It’s really meant to be used more privately and not meant for doing out in public,” she said. “That includes transportation facilities, schools obviously, any type of sporting events or music venues. Anything out in public would not be permitted,” including in a vehicle.
“I think that probably some of the difficulties for a tourist come when they purchase it and can’t smoke it in their room,” she said. “Then it becomes a little more difficult for them to consume in a legal way.”
Rarely do Aspen police ticket for this offense, Consuegra said. “We try to educate them on it instead.”
Consumption on U.S. Forest Service lands is also not allowed, she said, adding that the police believe the dispensaries are providing some basic instructions to the customers about where they can and cannot indulge.
The marketing board, during its recent meeting, also discussed possible locations for dispensaries, should they be allowed in Snowmass Village.
Board member Mike Sura said on Monday that while “you don’t have to have it right on the slope,” the second floor of the Snowmass Mall or the second floor of the Snowmass Center was acceptable in his view.
Sura decried what he called a “double standard” of alcohol and marijuana.
“Kids walk by liquor stores. Parents take them to restaurants that have bars. I don’t understand why we’re trying to turn Snowmass into Disneyland,” Sura said. “To say we have to hide everything from them is ridiculous.”