City plans pot club moratorium

ALAMOSA—Alamosa will not be opening any marijuana clubs anytime soon.

The Alamosa city council on Wednesday night passed on first reading and set for a March 15th public hearing an ordinance establishing a six-month moratorium on marijuana consumption clubs in the city limits.

This will give the city council time to decide if such clubs will be allowed and if so, how the city will handle them.
In a subsequent action, the council directed staff to develop language that could be presented on March 15 establishing procedures for accepting applications for this type of club during the moratorium period.

Alamosa City Attorney Erich Schwiesow explained that in a consumption club typically patrons bring their own marijuana to a bar-type setting where they can use their marijuana, similar to a cigar bar or hookah lounge. Marijuana is not sold at a consumption club (and currently Alamosa does not permit retail or medical marijuana establishments), but other items such as food might be sold, Schwiesow said.

He said there is no reason such clubs could not serve alcohol, as
long as they applied for a liquor license.

Alamosa does not have any consumption clubs, but there is interest in locating one here, and Schwiesow said the city has no zoning regulations specific to consumption clubs at this time. Even though marijuana sales are not allowed in Alamosa, a club like this could be approved because it is not selling marijuana, Schwiesow said.

The planning and zoning commission would treat such a club like a fraternal or social club, he added.

There are two issues that need to be resolved, Schwiesow said: 1) Does the city want to allow marijuana consumption clubs at all? And 2) If the city allows them, what kind of zoning considerations would be appropriate?

Schwiesow added the six-month time frame would also coincide with the zoning code update currently underway.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks added that the moratorium keeps potential applicants from wasting their time until they have clear direction from the city on if and how their applications will be handled.

Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero asked how the city’s Clean Indoor Air Ordinance would come into play with a consumption club. Schwiesow said the ordinance prohibits smoking in any public place, but the hookah lounge previously operating in the city dealt with that prohibition by making the business a private club where customers had to be members. A marijuana consumption club would probably deal with that issue in the same manner, he said.

Schwiesow said he would find out what other communities are doing and share that information with the city council.

The council also discussed building code issues related to how many marijuana plants can be grown for personal use and petitions to place marijuana questions on the ballot this year. Those issues will be covered in a subsequent Courier article.