Pros and cons of recreational marijuana in Gilpin County

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County Commissioners Coffee with Residents

by Randy Beaudette

On Tuesday February 16, the Gilpin County Commissioners held an informal meeting at the Community Center to discuss recreational marijuana in Gilpin County.

The meeting was attended by Commissioners Linda Isenhart, Buddy Schmalz, and Gail Watson in a “Fireside Chat” like setting in the meeting room. Also in attendance were local marijuana merchants; Joe and Jason Licata from Rocky Mountain Organics (RMO). This discussion is a continuation from the February 9th Commissioners meeting.

For a little background, there are 12 potential locations for commercial marijuana grow operations throughout Gilpin County. These operations are located in Rollinsville and mid-Gilpin County. The operation that the RMO is proposing is located behind the Coyote Motel south of Black Hawk. Currently, RMO has a small grow operation of approximately 200 square feet at their mid-county retail location. The bulk of their retail supply is shipped from their Pueblo grow operation. RMO is requesting a 1,500 square foot grow operation at the proposed Coyote location so that they will no longer have to rely on shipping marijuana from Pueblo.

The impacts of a large grow operation, other than the obvious tax revenue enhancement, is largely unknown. A question was raised, “How do we address the waste generated from a grow operation of this size?” Jason Licata stated that, “The only waste generated from this operation will be the stalks, the fan leaves and depleted soil.” He continued,” Per Colorado law, the stalks have to be cut into 8 inch long pieces and ground up with the fan leaves and can be disposed of in the normal trash. There is no THC in the discarded stalks or fan leaves. The soil is usually available to compost and used as topsoil in gardens.”

Another question was raised about the smells generated from an operation this size? RMO stated that there are a several systems available that will eliminate any odors generated. The variety of systems will be considered as the project progresses.

Tax on medical marijuana is 8%, tax on recreational marijuana is 28% and Gilpin County may tack on additional 3-5% excise tax for marijuana grown locally. The additional levy will have to be voted on in an upcoming election.

Advantages of growing marijuana in the mountains are:

–Reduced use electricity for air conditioning.

–Security is better in the mountains.

–Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides.

Disadvantages include:

–Initial building costs are higher

–Water availability

The Colorado State issued grow permit that RMO possesses currently will transfer from Pueblo to the Gilpin location, so there is no need to apply for an additional permit.

The Gilpin County Commissioners continue to study the marijuana issue in-depth in order reach a sound decision that will be in the best interest for Gilpin County and Gilpin residents. Locals are encouraged to weigh in on this issue in order to assist the Commissioners with this decision making process.

To sound off on this or any other County issue, email or call your County Commissioners at: Linda Isenhart:, Buddy Schmalz:, or Gail Watson: or call 303-582-5214.

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