Jason Pohl

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February 16, 2013
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Windsor marijuana club ban fails, town board spars during lively discussion

An emergency measure that would have temporarily banned private marijuana clubs within Windsor’s commercial properties failed Monday during a contentious town board meeting, potentially allowing for cannabis clubs to take root in Windsor.

The seven-member town board was split 4-2 on the ordinance that would have put the brakes on pot clubs through 2013 while lawmakers and communities across the state grapple with how to handle the marijuana industry in the wake of Amendment 64. Because it was an emergency ordinance, it required a five-person super majority to pass. Board member Myles Baker was absent for the vote.

“There’s no safety concern here by letting this play out,” said Jeremy Rose, who led the charge in opposition of the emergency vote. “I think this is gaming the system by calling it an emergency and trying to push it through.”

The matter of whether clubs should be allowed to set up in town was a moot point in his mind. He said if there was a desire for the clubs in town, the market would decide. Though he said opening a club didn’t make economic sense from a business perspective, if Windsor residents ultimately want to buy marijuana at a club, they shouldn’t be denied that option because of previous marijuana issues and board member’s personal feelings on the matter, he said.

Acting as the swing vote in a decision that surprised many, Robert Bishop-Cotner joined him in voting against the moratorium. He has previously urged the board to slow down the process, repeatedly requesting more time before making a decision while the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force hashes out details on the state level.

The board called for the temporary ban in January when it recognized a permanent, more sweeping measure likely would fail. It was viewed as a compromise that would protect the welfare and safety of the community — something Rose called “preposterous.”

“I think that this community has made it very clear on their feelings on this issue,” argued Mayor Pro-Tem Kristie Melendez, citing previous votes and comments from across the region that she said were overwhelmingly against all things related to marijuana. “We do believe there is the potential for abuse, financial mismanagement and regulatory complications.”

After Monday’s meeting, she admitted the decision caught her off-guard.

“I was shocked,” she said.

Before the measure was even discussed, several members sparred about whether it should be voted on without a full board. Members opted to remove the item from the Jan. 28 agenda “until a full board was present,” according to meeting minutes. Baker and Mayor John Vazquez were absent for that regular meeting.

But on Monday, when Rose used the same logic and tried to yank the item until Baker was present, the discussion got heated. Vazquez criticized Rose’s motives and referred to previous behind-the-scenes “jesting” about the issue while hinting that Rose’s charisma was putting the town’s “best interests” in jeopardy.

“We can’t tolerate jest anymore because it’s misconstrued,” Vazquez said adamantly. “We’ve got to put ourselves above our personalities.”

The discussion grew more lively when Bishop-Cotner laid into Vazquez for reportedly not notifying the board until 3 p.m. Jan. 28 that he would be absent, putting the entire decision in jeopardy.

“If we’re going to start swinging, let’s start swinging,” Bishop-Cotner said.

The discussion simmered at that point, though board members were visibly stunned the moratorium was shot down. The board could ultimately bring the matter back for another vote in a standard two-reading process, which would only require a four-person majority.

No new course of action was discussed Monday.

Though it is now technically feasible for a pot club to set up within town — much like those popping up across Denver — the process would likely be anything but easy with numerous licenses and hurdles still required. Marijuana social clubs have been more prevalent in areas with a bustling nightlife, raising the question of whether one would meet success in Windsor in the first place.

Regardless, the issue stands to drive several future discussions if board members have anything to say about it.

“First and foremost we want to stay ahead of the curve on this because we played in the backseat a little bit on the (medical marijuana) and that isn’t what our community wants us to do,” Vazquez said Monday. “They want us to be the tip of the spear, not the butt of the hammer. They want us to lead and not just follow and wait and see what happens.”

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My Windsor Now Updated Feb 16, 2013 09:48PM Published Feb 21, 2013 11:21AM Copyright 2013 My Windsor Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.