Pot club permanent ban proposed

ALAMOSA — During their first meeting in the new year next Wednesday, Alamosa city council will likely act on an ordinance proposed the end of 2017 to enact a permanent ban on marijuana consumption clubs.

Three residents speaking during the city council’s December 20th meeting urged the council to enact the ban, and the city will host a public hearing during its January 3rd meeting when the ordinance comes up for a vote.

Pending the November election results regarding marijuana issues in the city, the council had enacted a temporary prohibition of marijuana consumption clubs. Since all marijuana-related questions were defeated in November, the council is now considering a permanent prohibition of marijuana consumption clubs in the city limits.

The council approved on first reading the ordinance and scheduled a public hearing for its January 3rd meeting.

“I think the voters basically have given us a mandate about marijuana,” said new Alamosa Councilor David Broyles, a strong proponent of keeping marijuana stores out of the city limits. He made the motion to approve the ordinance on first reading.

Councilor Kristina Daniel, newly reappointed to the council to fill new Mayor Ty Coleman’s at large vacancy, agreed with Broyles. She said the council had been waiting to see which way the votes went in the election regarding marijuana questions, and now the council has its answer.

“I believe this is a good ordinance,” she said.

Mayor Coleman added he was also in favor of moving forward with the prohibition ordinance. “The people have spoken,” he said.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks explained that marijuana consumption clubs are places where people can bring in their own marijuana (it is not sold there) and smoke it. They are similar to hookah lounges, she said. The difference is, however, that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

She said proponents of marijuana businesses have pointed to increased tax revenue, but that would not be a benefit with a consumption club because marijuana is not sold at consumption clubs.

The city has received some inquiries from potential consumption clubs interested in establishing businesses here.

Brooks added that currently in Alamosa no marijuana businesses are allowed other than a testing facility within the city limits. Consumption clubs were not addressed to this point locally or statewide, however, she said. She reminded the council the current prohibition on marijuana consumption clubs would expire on May 1 of 2018 if the council did not take further action.

She also reminded the council that measures to allow medical and retail marijuana in the city limits both failed in the November election (with about 60 percent of residents voting against them.) Interpreting the voters’ desires from that vote, city staff prepared the ordinance to permanently prohibit marijuana consumption clubs in the city limits, Brooks explained.

She said there is currently a petition being circulated seeking a ban on marijuana consumption clubs, which would not need to continue if the city council enacted a ban.

Three area residents spoke during the public comment section of the December 20st council meeting urging the council to ban the clubs.

Chester Jones, co-pastor of Calvary Bible Chapel, voiced strong opposition to allowing consumption clubs in the city limits. He said he grew up in Alamosa, raised his family here and is proud of Alamosa. He said representing his church, many of whose members live in Alamosa, he would ask the council to prohibit the clubs.

He added that the church is against drugs of all kinds, not just marijuana.

Rob Oringdulph commended the council for considering the prohibition ordinance, and he strongly urged the council to enact it. He reminded the council that ballot questions seeking medical and retail marijuana sales in the city were soundly defeated in the last election.

“I would hope you would continue with this type of ordinance … so those types of establishments are banned in Alamosa.”

Dr. Terry Wiley, who has spoken to the council in the past regarding marijuana issues, said the voters were clear in the last election, “and I think that’s the direction our community wants to go.”

He said the language in the ordinance prohibiting marijuana consumption clubs was really good.

“I think that’s what we want in our community, a drug free community,” Wiley said.