Marijuana causes discord on La Veta board

LA VETA— At the Tuesday La Veta town board meeting, Trustee Bill Stark tried to get the board to ban the sale, cultivation, testing and refinement of recreational and medical marijuana within town limits. Stark pointed out that the town has yet to solidify any decision on the marijuana issue, and he said there is no proof that there is support from citizens for allowing marijuana businesses in town. Stark said the long term effects of alcohol and tobacco have been documented, and there is no reason to believe it would be any different with marijuana. Another point Stark made was that having drug sales within La Veta would adversely affect the tourism industry, which is crucial to the town. Trustee Shane Clouse said, “I still think banning this will not keep it out of our kids’ hands. With regulation we at least have some chance of controlling it.” Trustee Dale Davis added,

“Prohibiting it is ignoring it, in my opinion. This is something we need to get on and do the best job we can to regulate in this community.” Former trustee Tracy Webb cast doubt that regulations would control illicit use, saying, “What stops the black market? It will still cost less on the black market.” The black market was also mentioned by Clouse, who cited the City of Edgewater as an example. He explained that, now that there are legal marijuana establishments, the black market is targeting youth. Stark’s motion to ban was voted down in what is becoming a familiar “four to two” split, with only Stark and Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald voting for the ban. The board will continue to work on an ordinance, but Clouse explained that the town is struggling with it, saying, “I believe we should go to another workshop. We’re not even close yet.” In Town Talk, Stirling Lathrop suggested the town should not hire another marshal, but instead hire a code enforcement officer who would also be a deputized sheriff living in La Veta. “We do have a lot of code violations, and it would be much more constructive to hire a retired policeman to do code enforcement,” Lathrop said. The mayor explained the Huerfano County Sheriff has already said his department will not cover La Veta. But Trustee Davis seemed to like Lathrop’s suggestion. “That might be something we really need to look at. I think it’s a good idea,” Davis said. Trustee Dave Molyneaux concurred, “I definitely feel it warrants evaluation.” The mayor told Lathrop, “Perhaps when the new board starts up, the police committee can look into it.” The board approved a commercial redevelopment permit for Thomas Doerk, who will be opening Francisco Crossing at 300 S. Main St. In a letter of support, Nancy Christofferson wrote, “The building anchors the Historic Preservation District and should be used in such a way the entire community can enjoy it.” According to Doerk, the Crossing will be “dedicated to the arts, humanities, sciences, engagement and useful leisure.” In the permit application he wrote, “. . . it is our hope that this building and its programs and activities will become a ‘cultural hub’ for the region.” Town Clerk Laurie Erwin announced there will be one ballot issue and a mayoral runoff in the upcoming election. Only two petitions have been received for the four open trustee positions, so they will both automatically be placed on the board if they don’t change their minds before March 7. The public can meet the two candidates for mayor, Logan Taggart and Doug Brgoch, at candidate night, March 19 at 7 pm at the La Veta Community Center. Voters who have not received a TABOR notice by mail can pick one up at Town Hall.