Superior on Monday became the first community in Boulder County to begin putting in place a permanent ban on all marijuana retail shops, clubs or cultivation facilities.
The Board of Trustees voted 6-0 on a first reading in favor of an ordinance disallowing marijuana establishments in town. Trustee Lisa Skumatz was absent.
The board must cast a final vote on the matter at its next meeting in February.
The trustees also approved on first reading a companion measure that will make it illegal for anyone to "publicly consume or grow" marijuana in Superior. Both ordinances are efforts by the town to blunt the effects of the statewide recreational marijuana measure passed by voters in November.
Amendment 64 allows Colorado residents to grow up to six pot plants and to possess and use up to 1 ounce of the drug. It also allows for the establishment of retail stores and manufacturing facilities and gives municipalities the power to regulate or ban them.
Colorado and Washington, whose voters also passed a pot legalization measure last fall, are the only two states in the country that permit the recreational use of marijuana.
"Amendment 64 allows you to grow at home -- we can't stop that. Amendment 64 allows you to smoke at home -- we can't stop that," Town Attorney Kendra Carberry said Monday. "All this does is address the business side of things."
'Not right for the town'
Superior is going further than any of its neighboring communities in regulating the recreational pot industry. Most towns and cities -- including Erie, Lyons, Broomfield, Longmont and Lafayette -- have imposed or are pursuing moratoria, but none is crafting an outright ban.
The Boulder City Council decided in December not to take the city attorney's advice to ban non-medical marijuana stores, while Louisville's elected leaders are scheduled to take up the matter for the first time at a study session Tuesday night.
Superior took its cue to pursue a ban from a decision the town made 21/2 years ago to outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries, Trustee Sandy Pennington said.
"We had so much support on the medical marijuana dispensary ban," she said. "Opening our borders up for the business side on marijuana is not right for the town."
Superior Mayor Andrew Muckle said people are free to grow and use marijuana in the privacy of their homes, as allowed by state law, but there's no need for storefronts and open use of the drug inside the town's borders.
"Superior's a family-oriented town and people don't want to be in a park, with their kindergarten children, where people are smoking pot," he said.
'What is so harmful?'
Laurel Alterman, who owns AlterMeds medical marijuana dispensary across U.S. 36 in Louisville, said while she is happy she won't have any competition from marijuana retail shops to the south, she wondered why Superior's elected leaders are so dead set against the industry.
Many of her customers, she said, call Superior home.
"I think it's incredibly shortsighted of Superior and I wonder if they understand what their constituents want," Alterman said. "What is so harmful?"
She said one thing Superior will forgo as a result of its decision to pursue a ban is sales tax revenue, which she expects to significantly grow once retail regulations are put in place and medical marijuana dispensaries, like hers, begin converting to general retail shops.
She said she pays Louisville around $2,500 a month in sales tax now. That, she said, could double or even triple once marijuana sales are made to a much a larger customer base.
But Pennington said much of that money would be needed to cover the costs of setting up a system to regulate the businesses, audit their books and collect sales taxes from them.
"With a community of our size, I don't see it as justifiable in terms of time and cost," she said.
Muckle said the town is in good fiscal shape and that the negatives of allowing the businesses would outweigh the positives.
"We don't have any revenue constraints at the moment -- we have year-over-year increases in our sales tax revenues," the mayor said. "The perceived negative aspects of this don't counter the revenue side of it."