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Cortez City Council will not consider changing marijuana code

Members oppose changing residency requirement
The Medicine Man dispensary on Main Street in Cortez.

At a workshop on Tuesday, the Cortez City Council agreed not to vote on a request to change the city code for retail marijuana licenses.

City Clerk Linda Smith presented a request from a hopeful marijuana store owner, asking the council to loosen the residency requirement for a pot license. Right now, business owners must have lived in Colorado for at least two years before applying for a retail marijuana license in Cortez, in accordance with state regulations adopted in 2014. State law has changed since then to allow one-year residents to open dispensaries, but most council members said they saw no need to change the city code to match it.

City Manager Shane Hale said he and the rest of the staff get almost daily requests from people who want to open dispensaries in Cortez, which is home to five. The license for a sixth was approved earlier this month.

“I don’t know that we really need to do a whole lot to incentivize, or make it easier to open marijuana businesses here,” Hale said.

He added that loosening city regulations on marijuana would likely bring more applicants to town.

City attorney Mike Green said changing a rule in response to one person’s request could harm the town’s reputation in the long run. Several other council members agreed, including Mayor Karen Sheek, who said Cortez likely doesn’t need another dispensary soon.

“How many more can we reasonably have?” she asked.

The council members informally agreed not to bring the code change to a vote.

Also during the workshop, Hale introduced the city’s new intern, Peyton Heitzman, who will be working in City Hall for two years through the state-funded Cathy Shipley Best and Brightest Internship Program. Two new public works employees, Travis Caveney and Jeff Lively, also introduced themselves at the workshop.

James Dietrich, the Montezuma County natural resource planning and land coordinator, gave an update on the planned Paths to Mesa Verde trail project. He said many landowners in the Cortez area have expressed a willingness to allow the trail to pass through their property, although owners in other parts of the county have been less open. It is still not clear if the trail will be built.

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