City council plans to allow marijuana stores in Red Lodge

Red Lodge City Council is considering zoning that would allow marijuana stores in downtown Red Lodge.

It is permitted outside the city limits in Carbon County, but not inside Red Lodge and some were concerned that it is here in the historic district or walkable.

“The appeal of this town is tourism,” said business owner Steve Mikels. “We’re not saying you can’t have them in town, we’re saying they don’t need to be in the historic district.”

Like many towns in Montana, Red Lodge is trying to figure out what to do with marijuana dispensaries, whether to allow or ban them.

“It may be legal, but it doesn’t fit into a western city tourist experience,” Mikels said.

A 2020 ballot measure legalized marijuana, and a bill from the Montana legislature gave much of the enforcement power to city and county governments, meaning you’ll find dispensaries in the county. of Carbon, but not within the Red Flag city limits.

“You can afford it,” said Red Lodge resident Lee Stevens. “It’s legal now, but I can’t recall anywhere in the wording of the law that requires a municipality to make an exception where it’s easier or they are required to make sure a marijuana dispensary is open.”

Red Lodge’s ordinance currently states that marijuana stores are only legal if and when the federal and state governments recognize marijuana as legal.

Tuesday, City Council will vote to remove the federal requirement, while changing zoning to increase the distance between dispensaries and schools and daycares.

Mikels says he’s not fighting recreational marijuana stores within the city limits, only in the walkable or historic section of downtown Red Lodge.

“You get so much revenue from tourism and foot traffic and the tourism and foot traffic that’s in this core neighborhood needs to be considered and respected,” Mikels said.

Q2 contacted the mayor and six members of the Red Lodge City Council as well as a marijuana store owner in Carbon County. All of the declined interviews hung up on us or did not return our calls, asking for the proposed change.

Some, like council member Terri Durbin, have previously written in support of the dispensaries, stating in an email to Mikels, “The overwhelming majority of citizens of Red Lodge have approved of recreational marijuana. Why wouldn’t we allow we not dispensaries in our town and collect the revenue?”

But Lee Stevens, who is running for city council, disagrees and he and many others believe allowing dispensaries is a slippery slope.

“It’s going to completely change the whole makeup of this town,” Stevens said.

Comments are closed.