Residents of Las Animas tasked with exploring the logistics of marijuana regulation that would best suit the city gathered in the City Council chambers on Dec. 6 for a work session.

Their recommendations will be presented at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

City Council must replace an ordinance banning marijuana before Jan. 1.

Residents voted for Terry Kim to lead their forum as chairman on Thursday.

To streamline the evening's productivity, Mayor Jim Collins assigned four subchairs to lead the primary discussions on regulations.

Subchairs were Andrew Montoya, Dawn Stowell, Barbara Garrison and Mary Tuttle. Each subchair was stationed at a specific table, and every 15 minutes residents would move to the next table to share their thoughts on that table's given topic.

There were four main topics up for discussion, and each was a different aspect of municipal marijuana regulations that the city will need to draft: the number of allotted dispensaries, the permitted hours of operation, the manner of operation (i.e. medical or recreational) and the costs associated with licenses and operation.

One challenge residents face is state regulations that require marijuana outlets to be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and daycare facilities, limiting the space available within the city for retail outlets, extraction facilities and other buildings related to marijuana business, although Colorado law does permit local governments to make exceptions.

Residents discussed other issues, as well, such as whether or not to impose a regulation requiring a marijuana business owner to have lived in the city of Las Animas for a specified number of years, or whether or not the city should assess additional taxes on those looking to start a marijuana business.

Collins facilitated the work session on Thursday evening, although he refrained from discussion himself.

"Now understand that the reason I'm being completely, 100 percent hands off is because I am the tie-vote breaker," said Collins. "So I cannot have an input on this. If [City Council] comes to a decision and it's a tie, I have to have an unbiased opinion."

Collins stressed the importance of residents bringing their suggestions to City Council on Tuesday's meeting. The council will either decide to create a new ordinance that evening, or decide that they need more information and residential work sessions will carry on.

"We will not lift the ban until we have an ordinance in place that regulates, [otherwise it's] just mayhem if you did," said Collins. "So I suggest strongly that you come up with a good presentation if you're interested in moving forward. I would suggest to you strongly that if you want to have a good regulatory program and you don't want absolute mayhem, you get your stuff together and present it."

Subchairs agreed to meet over the weekend for further discussion and to prepare for Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Las Animas voters, on Nov. 6, approved medical marijuana centers, cultivation operations and medical marijuana-infused product manufacturing within city limits. Voters also approved recreational marijuana facilities, including sales, cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities in town, subject to additional regulations as may be adopted by city council.

Despite approving the sale of medical and recreational marijuana in city limits, Las Animas voters rejected Ballot Question 2D, which would have increased taxes on the sale of marijuana by 5 percent over the existing sales tax rate.

cburney@chieftain.com