San Juan County commissioners got their first look this week at a draft ordinance that would allow marijuana-related businesses to operate in the county under rules similar to bars and liquor stores.
The ordinance was drafted after an earlier proposed ordinance that would have banned marijuana businesses was rejected by the commissioners late last year.
County Administrator Willy Tookey said the ordinance would allow marijuana retail operations, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities and a testing facility.
He distributed the 20-page draft ordinance to the commissioners for their review prior to scheduling a first reading.
Tookey said the ordinance does not establish the actual licensing fees, and those fees would be set by a resolution adopted by the county commissioners. He recommended fees ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
And he said the county could impose an additional sales or excise tax on marijuana sales and production, but that would have to be approved by voters in an election, due to tax limitation measures in the state constitution.
“It might be something we could consider for the November election,” Tookey said.
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman suggested such a tax could help finance a new Lackawanna Bridge.
“We could build it out of hemp,” he joked.
County officials have yet to schedule a hearing on the draft ordinance.
It would allow retail marijuana establishments only on roads maintained year-round — U.S. 550, County Road 110 and County Road 2. It would ban such facilities within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, church, or publicly owned building, park or playground.
Tookey noted that marijuana-related business, like all other land uses in the county aside from mining, will be a use subject to review and the county’s land-use regulations.
The draft ordinance would limit retail marijuana shops to the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Marijuana possession for recreational use by adults has been legal in Colorado since January 2013, following a ballot issue in 2012. And as of Jan. 1, 2014, marijuana sales are allowed across the state, but subject to local approval.