Metro Aurora

City decides to delay any marijuana decision until feds clear up their stances

“We’re still at a point where we have more questions than we have answers,” said City Manger George “Skip” Noe.

AURORA | City officials will be weeding through information in the coming weeks before they make any decisions about how to implement the new state marijuana law within city limits.

They talked about the work ahead of them at an Aurora City Council Public Safety Committee on Nov. 14.

“We’re still at a point where we have more questions than we have answers,” said City Manger George “Skip” Noe.

The consensus was to hold off on making any decisions until federal attorneys decide on their course of action, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Amendment 64, which passed Nov. 6, legalizes up to 1 oz. of marijuana for recreational use for people over the age of 21, and also allows anyone over that age to grow up to six plants in their home. The amendment won’t be certified by the governor until mid-December after a canvassing process, Noe said. The state Legislature has to then adopt regulations for marijuana retail establishments by July 1, 2013, and by that date, Aurora has to decide whether ban the commercial sale of marijuana within its city limits.

However, officials from the Colorado Municipal League say they think the process will be put on hold because federal attorneys will step in with a lawsuit, Noe said.

A subcommittee composed of city staff including city attorneys, code enforcement officers and planning and finance officials will now work on drafting different options for council members to review in the coming months.

“We have a number of ordinances in place throughout the city code that deal with the issue of legality of marijuana and paraphernalia, all of which would have to be examined,” Noe said.

City officials at the committee meeting voiced concerns about the provision in Amendment 64 that allows people to grow marijuana in their homes.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said there were “all sorts of safety issues” associated with growing marijuana in a home, which city officials regulated in 2010.

“Those issues don’t go away no matter what we do here,” he said. “It’s likely that there will be more growing of marijuana in residences.”

Currently, four Aurora Police officers are assigned to work full-time on home-grow compliance issues, and a new marijuana grow sprouts up between one and three times per week, he said.

“It’s a big production and requires a lot of extra energy and immediately implicates all safety and electrical codes,” Oates said.

Among the marijuana issues that the city has to tackle in the coming months are: Should the city amend or repeal ordinances that prohibit possession of marijuana? Should the city amend or repeal the current ordinance regarding sale or possession of marijuana paraphernalia? Should the city amend ordinances regulating growing marijuana in a private residence? And finally, should the city’s employment policies be amended?

Voters in Arapahoe County approved Amendment 64 by a margin of about 17,000 votes. About 142,300 people voted to approve the amendment. The amendment passed by about 22,000 votes in Adams County with about 95,000 people voting for it.

Council members could ask voters in Aurora whether they want to opt out of the commercial sale of marijuana, similar to the city-wide ballot question they posed to voters in 2010 about banning medical marijuana dispensaries. In 2010, a majority of Aurora voters opposed a city-wide ballot question to legalize medical marijuana sales within city limits. The final tallies for Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties show that voters in Aurora decided to prohibit dispensaries within city limits by a margin of 42,347 to 39,224.

Aurora council members are still unsure what to make of the passage of Amendment 64.

“Obviously, this puts Aurora in a somewhat awkward position, stuck between a popular vote of the people of the state and the views of the federal government on the issue, and the opinions of the people I represent,” said Councilman Bob Roth last week. “Until I have had the chance to review all the information, I don’t have an opinion on opting in or out.”

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or sara@aurorasentinel.com. 

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  • aurora voter

    The City of Boulder has taken a progressive stance on the marijuana issue and
    has dropped cases regarding pot in their court system, thus freeing up time for other cases in their courts.
    What does the council decide to do in Aurora? Wring their hands, and try to
    decide how to subvert the wishes of the voters of the State of Colorado.
    They could free up the four Aurora officers that are now prowling around, trying
    to catch people with pot, and allow them to do the job they were hired to do –
    protect the citizens of Aurora.
    I can imagine that a huge class action suit would be filed if the City decided to
    “opt out.”
    To sit back and wait for a clear decision on the federal level will leave Aurora
    in the dust when it comes to collecting sales tax on legal pot, while other
    municipalities will find a way to work with the regulations that are already in
    place for medical marijuana.
    I understand the City processes at least a thousand cases per year on the
    possession of pot. Just think of the tax payer money it would save if the
    Council would wake up and see what other jurisdications are doing.
    Guess they are too busy putting risky 4 million dollar deals together to
    consider the sales tax Aurora would gain.
    I’ve heard them say “their hands are tied” too many times when it comes to
    making decisions that would actually benefit the citizens of Aurora.
    And the council always thinks they are the example others will follow. Not this
    time — the council acts like it’s the l950′s.

  • Douglas

    If this city bans this, I WILL MOVE to another city! Aurora isn’t the Garden of Eden, give me a friggen’ break! They ask the taxpayers for MILLIONS for the schools, but they ban marijuana dispensaries, which would have single-handedly given the schools WAY more than they need!!!!!

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS CITY!? If my statistics are correct, statistically speaking, Aurora is THE MOST VIOLENT CITY IN THE STATE OF COLORADO!!! I moved here from the East Coast and my car insurance went from $550/year to over TWO THOUSANDS DOLLARS/year, just based on living in Aurora. This city needs to fix its rotten reputation, its high crime rate and get some COMMON SENSE!! Denver will be raking in BILLIONS per year off MMJ and recreational pot, and Poorura is going to say “Let’s make a tax levy.” Bunch of idiots running this city!! Glad I’m renting and didn’t purchase property here!

    I love Aurora, but if the city can’t respect a Constitutional Amendment and get over the “REEFER MADNESS”, then I am OUT of here! Get a clue Aurora!!

  • Daddy

    Aurora is a joke from the paleolithic days. Still aiming at its own foot, determined to shoot it clear off.

  • Daddy

    Who the hell runs Aurora. Even though people have spoke, Aurora remains deaf.