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Cities grappling over retail marijuana rules

After voters approved a measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, many municipalities were unsure of how to implement rules to regulate its proper use. Some towns and cities are drafting rules to limit businesses that sell marijuana, and some are considering whether to ban them altogether.

The Denver Post reports that the City of Broomfield is considering a two-year ban on marijuana-based businesses in order to give voters a chance (in 2014) to decide whether such a ban should be permanent. The Town of Superior enacted an outright ban on marijuana shops and clubs. Conversely, the City of Louisville is working on plans to allow medicinal outlets to convert to commercial establishments.

Other municipalities, including Erie, Lyons and Lafayette are taking a "wait and see" approach regarding marijuana outlets while the state legislature develops regulations.

In the meantime, some cities are concerned about how revenues from marijuana sales will be treated by the federal government. As we reported in a prior post, marijuana is still classified as an illegal drug under federal law.

While the Obama administration has indicated that it would not interfere with state sanctioned recreational use, skeptics believe that this distinction may leave municipalities vulnerable to prosecution (at worst) and require them to refund money collected through taxable sales.

Currently, the two medicinal dispensaries in Louisville have provided a steady stream of tax revenue, but the city believes there are larger policy issues that must be addressed.

Meanwhile, local authorities will continue to craft rules to deal with whether commerical outlets will exist, and how they will process applications for retail operations. State law requires them to do so by October 1st.

Source: DenverPost.com, Louisville latest Boulder County community to wrestle with pot rules, January 29, 2013

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