Over the course of two weeks, the city of Grand Junction has held seven listening sessions and gathered hundred of surveys to help it determine how to best regulate retail marijuana businesses in the city.
City staff ran the listening sessions, which ended Tuesday evening with a session at Eagle Rim Park in Orchard Mesa. The city held four in-person sessions at locations around the city to gather a diverse group of respondents. It also held three virtual sessions.
Grand Junction Planning Technician Bella Vaz gave the attendants at Tuesday’s meeting a brief overview of the process the city has been going through.
“We’re here to get input from the community on how you want to see marijuana businesses regulated and run in the city,” Vaz said. “We’ve been researching this topic pretty intensively since City Council directed us to do so last July.”
That research included a public listening session by the City Council in 2020, as well as the formation of a working group made up of community members and industry experts.
The current City Council asked staff to gather further public input, now that the city voted in April to remove a moratorium on marijuana businesses and impose a special sales tax on marijuana products.
At the in-person meetings, staff answered questions and took feedback. Tuesday’s attendees raised issues like hospitality licenses and the prospect for marijuana deliveries as something the city should plan for in the future.
They also suggested a 5% tax rate, the lowest allowed by the voters, would keep the industry competitive.
Throughout the in-person meetings staff had attendees weigh in on specific issues like the number of stores they would like to see allowed, where those stores should be able to locate and how the city should choose the people who would operate those businesses.
Going forward, Vaz said, the City Council has laid out a timeline that could allow for marijuana retail businesses to begin operating in early 2022. It will likely take on regulations for other license types like products manufacturing and cultivation after that.
“The timeline that we’re looking for this is pretty straight- forward,” Vaz said. “Essentially the City Council wants to see a draft regulation for their review and public comment in the next couple of months, so that we can have a licensing system in place and process applications later this fall and winter. That would put the city in position to have stores operating early next year.”
The City Council will hold a work session on Monday, June 7, at 5:30 p.m. where it will take further public comment and discuss the public input gathered through the listening sessions. For more information visit www.gjcity.org/MarijuanaRegulation.