It was pretty much the last thing Norm Clasen expected. As recently as three weeks ago, Clasen was convinced the Basalt Town Council would deny his request to lower the legal buffer between a park and any proposed marijuana dispensary from 500 feet to 200 feet.
Clasen had arrived at the council’s Jan. 24 meeting fully expecting his entreaty, upon which he had been working for 10 months, to be summarily nixed. He was ready to deliver a scathing verbal broadside toward the council, one peppered with words like “hypocrisy,” “shortsightedness” and “pandering.”
Then, to Clasen’s shock and dismay, the council voted 5-1 on first reading to support his petition.
“I was very pleasantly surprised,” Clasen said after the decision.
He was equally surprised Tuesday night when the council voted 5-0 on second reading to approve Ordinance No. 30, Series of 2016, which, on Feb. 28, will essentially allow for the operation of marijuana-related businesses in the downtown core.
“I think all of us involved learned a lot over the past 10 months about dispensaries and marijuana in this process,” Clasen said. “So much of this is about learning about the facts. It’s an educational process for sure. Medical and recreational marijuana has been legal for five years in Colorado. It’s here to stay and will continue to evolve. One thing we have learned is that it is fear and bias that still concerns many people. All I can say about that is to keep an open mind.
“Statistics show that it is not a gateway drug and, to be honest, alcohol is a far greater problem than marijuana has ever been or ever will be. Every study I could find supports that in a huge way. Alcohol is well accepted in our lives with little or no controversy but we all know the consequences it