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The Buena Vista Board of Trustees on Tuesday gave the green light in a 4-2 vote (Norm Nyberg and Cindie Swisher cast dissenting votes) to prepare an ordinance approving the sale of recreational marijuana, and plans to ask town voters in November to decide if an extra “special tax” should be applied to it.

“We’re either going to move forward one way or another, or we’re going to drop it right here,” Mayor Duff Lacy said going into the discussion.

Tuesday’s action was the culmination of several discussions that have taken place since the April 2016 town vote, which rejected recreational marijuana 550-348.

Town staff are now directed to collect pertinent information on a new ordinance, including the 2016 draft ordinance, to continue the conversation at the board’s July 28 meeting. Meanwhile, the deadline for the tax question on the county ballot is July 24.

Duff Lacy, Mayor of Buena Vista

The gist of the talk was the renewed possibility of allowing recreational marijuana in town — and reaping the economic benefit — seeing as Buena Vista is sandwiched among several towns that have approved it. Those in favor of moving forward said that none of the towns in Colorado that have approved the sale of recreational marijuana have walked back their decisions, and that Buena Vista stands to gain from their knowledge.

The town currently allows for medical marijuana only.

Trustee Devin Rowe said that he encounters numerous visitors who ask where they can buy recreational marijuana. He noted that when he tells them it’s available in Leadville and Salida, they go to those towns and along with buying marijuana, they also drop their tourist dollars.

Rowe said that with the additional revenue in town, “we could really achieve great things here.” He listed an ice rink, recreation center and Sunset Vista Park as projects that could happen.

Given the economic stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been considerable talk about the benefits of okaying recreational marijuana in town, as well as the leakage of sales tax and other revenues if Buena Vista continues to say no. Trustee Norm Nyberg, however, disagreed that marijuana is the answer. “I don’t believe Buena Vista is in such dire straits that it needs to add recreational marijuana to the fore,” he said.