Bayfield residents learn about upcoming vote on marijuana sales

Friday, June 29, 2018 8:24 PM

Bayfield town trustees are moving forward with plans to put marijuana sales on the ballot in November.

If town residents approve the measure, retail and medical marijuana sales would be legal in town limits, although cultivation facilities would still be banned.

At a public forum Thursday at Bayfield Town Hall, Town Manager Chris La May explained what could be on the ballot this fall. Trustees discussed the issue at the June 26 Town Board meeting.

If approved by the voters, the town would tax each transaction, with up to $10 on each sale, although a $3 fee is more likely. This is the amount Mancos charges for each sale.

A new license application fee would cost $2,500, with an annual operating fee of $3,000 and a renewal fee of $2,000.

Sales would be allowed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a maximum of three stores allowed, La May said. That compares to the two liquor stores that operate in town limits. There are another two in Vallecito and two located between Bayfield and Durango.

Sales would not be allowed within 500 feet of Bayfield schools and parks. The licensing authority would be the town board.

The questions for voters in November would be in two parts, first asking if they want to lift the ban on marijuana sales in town, and second if they want to tax those sales. About 20 members of the public attended Thursday's forum, along with six town trustees and two town employees.

One person asked if smoking marijuana in public is allowed. La May said it is not.

Most people who attended the forum are opposed to lifting the ban.

"What if it doesn't work?" one attendee asked.

That's a risk that would be taken by the business owner, not the town, said David Black, a town trustee who has long advocated for sales to be allowed in town so Bayfield could collect more tax revenues.

"I don't think anybody is going to suffer" from allowing retail sales in town, Black said.

"Then I don't think you're thinking, sir," Kay Phelps said.

One attendee said she admired members of the Ignacio Town Board, who continue to agree that marijuana should not be sold in their town.

"I feel it's the people's choice," said Brenna Morlan, a Bayfield trustee, adding that the board decided to put it up for a public vote to get a definitive answer on the issue. She added that she wishes people outside of town limits could vote on the issue, as well, but state law doesn't allow that.

"We've always put our kids first in Bayfield," Phelps said. "That almighty dollar sign is what's pressing most of you."

If voters approve the measures, sales will be legal, and if voters turn it down, the ban will remain in place, likely for years, said Mayor Matt Salka.

"I don't want to do this again," Salka said.

"You and me both," Morlan added.