Vail Extends Ban on Recreational Marijuana Sales


In 2012, Colorado and Washington both voted to legalize recreational marijuana statewide, opening the doors to a brand new industry and a brand new revenue stream. While the states as a whole seemed to welcome the new industry, there were clauses in both bills that allowed specific areas to place moratoriums on recreational marijuana, and Vail is one city that has taken advantage of it.

Amendment 64, passing almost three years ago, brought recreational marijuana into Colorado. Since that time, however, Vail has been able to keep recreational marijuana growth, processing and sales out of the city through a temporary moratorium. This is more commonplace than might be expected, as three-quarters of the counties and cities of Colorado have banned the sale and growth of recreational marijuana.

Vail’s temporary moratorium was recently extended, but a new draft was introduced on July 7, 2015, that would permanently ban recreational marijuana sales. The Vail Town Council approved the first reading 6-1 and the final reading could happen as soon as August 4. The permanency of the ban is subject to future council decisions.

The opposition to marijuana retailers seems to be mostly positioned as a way to keep the image and brand of the town unchanged. According to CBS Denver, Andrew Daly, the mayor of Vail, stated, “Our guests are typically older and we have found a vast majority of those people do not want pot being sold here.”

He went on to point out that if visitors or residents of the ski town do want to purchase marijuana, they can do so at the neighboring city Eagle-Vail. Eagle-Vail, part of Eagle County, is unincorporated and home to what is referred to as the “Green Mile.”

Vail may be the only ski resort town in Colorado to ban the sale of marijuana in the city outright, but it is not the only one to place restrictions. Breckenridge, for example, banned retail marijuana shops from the town’s main street. Similar to Vail’s rationale, Breckenridge did this for the sake of keeping a specific town aesthetic.

In Washington state quite a few cities are following suit, further showing that marijuana is not welcome in all communities. Under Ordinance 4124, Kent, Washington, is one of the larger cities to ban the sale, growth and processing of marijuana.

County-wise, Yakima has permanently banned recreational marijuana’s growth, processing and sale. This is considered constitutional by the attorney general according to the way the laws were written, and the county isn’t shy about enforcing them.

For example, a marijuana dispensary opened in Yakima in defiance of this ruling on June 19. Less than a month later, the city closed down the dispensary and it was ruled that the shop had to pay Yakima’s legal fees. The fees came to $1,235, and the store owes over $600 in excise taxes to the state. Considering the store only reported $2,583 in sales for the month it was open and the $65,000 that was invested in the business, it does not pay to go against local rulings.

While these counties and cities might ban the sale of marijuana, the consumption of it is still legal according to state law. As the country’s marijuana mindset evolves and more states legalize the substance, these counties and cities might consider reversing their decisions. For now though, the conservative mindset seems to be prevailing.

Josh Browning is a writer and editor based in Washington and has a background working in the technology, education and creative writing fields. He earned his MA from Western Washington University and his BSS from Ohio University.

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