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SW Colo. county bans retail pot for 16 months

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the face of vocal opposition, La Plata County (Colo.) commissioners approved a 16-month ban on retail marijuana businesses, The Durango Herald reported.

At least three residents, including “Rasta Stevie” Smith, blasted commissioners for ignoring the will of county residents who voted 62 to 38 percent last November to legalize marijuana, The Herald said.

After his impassioned speech, Smith left the meeting by kicking open a back door, but returned a few minutes later, only to be escorted out by a sheriff’s deputy for speaking out of turn, the paper reported.

Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the temporary ban, with Commissioners Bobby Lieb and Julie Westendorff saying they were uncomfortable enacting marijuana regulations before the state finalizes its own rules, The Herald said.

Commissioner Gwen Lachalt voted against the ban, saying existing businesses could operate under state rules once they take effect, according to The Herald.

In Colorado, one third of the state’s municipalities have chosen to allow retail marijuana, a third are undecided and a third have opted out — because, according to Smith, the latter are scared and “dumb rednecks,” the paper reported.

Colorado voted last November to decriminalize the personal cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for people 21 and older, to authorize state and local jurisdictions to adopt a regulatory framework to address retail sales and to allow local governments to ban all retail sales within their jurisdiction, The Herald said.

Such a ban does not affect the personal cultivation or use of marijuana or existing medical marijuana laws, according to the paper.

The city of Durango is scheduled next week to formally adopt a moratorium on retail operations that would extend until June 30, 2014, The Herald said.