Marijuana in the Mountains

Street signage advertising marijuana products, for both medical and recreational use, have taken their place next to signs for more traditional retail establishments in Aspen.   image: Patrick Rawley, Stan Clauson Associates, Inc.

Street signage advertising marijuana products, for both medical and recreational use, in Aspen
image: Patrick Rawley, Stan Clauson Associates, Inc.

Pitkin County & Colorado’s Early Experience with Legalized Weed

With the recent legalization of marijuana in the State of Colorado for recreational use, the nascent medical marijuana industry that had provided marijuana to those with doctors’ prescriptions expanded to recreational marijuana shops and grow operations. As with the rest of the state, the Aspen area has seen retail shops opening and grow operations proposed. Some of these land use proposals have been approved, and some not. This is an area of land use that has provoked considerable controversy, as this “green” boom does not come without its issues. Questions of safety, impacts on health, issues with driving while under the influence, and social acceptance of a substance that has so long stood in the shadows of society have entered the daily discussion. And now, land use has come into play.

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Christo’s Over the River

Christo, Over the River project For the Arkansas River, Colorado, Drawing 2007

Christo, Over the River project For the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, Drawing 2007

The Confluence of Art and Land Use Politics, or the Journey is Half the Fun

As a parent, hearing the phrase “are we there yet” can cause your skin to crawl.  It isn’t that we don’t understand the frustration of a long wait for an anticipated vacation, but things that are worthwhile take time to happen – right?  As land use professionals, we find ourselves answering this question, in so many words, for our clients as we wind our way down a circuitous path towards approval of a project.  Like  the six year old in the back seat of the family wagon, our clients just wish to get on with the fun of building the project and would rather forget the often teeth grinding journey that leads to final approval.  And yet, as land use professionals who have freely chosen this profession, on some level, we must think the journey is fun.

Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude, the dynamic duo behind such visually stunning and culturally evocative temporary outdoor art projects such as the wrapping of the Reichstag and the Gates in New York’s Central Park, seem to understand that the twists and turns of the permitting process is something that can and should become an integral part of any project and not just a means to an end.  Sadly, Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 but her husband and their team of consultants continue to pursue one of the couple’s latest examples of this appreciation of process in their proposed project for the Arkansas River in Fremont County, Colorado.

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