Marijuana

Holland Hills odors likely from outdoor grows

June 28, 2016 — 

Marijuana odors detected earlier this month in the Holland Hills neighborhood near Basalt seem to be coming from private grows and not from a commercial pot farm in the area.

That was the consensus Tuesday at a Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners meeting with the owner of High Valley Farms, who had to mitigate serious marijuana odors last summer after angry neighbors voiced complaints.

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Aspen leaders ponder what to do with pot of money

May 27, 2016 — 

Aspen’s municipal government reaped $200,341 in sales tax collections from marijuana sales in 2015, which has prompted a discussion about future use of those funds.

The money currently sits in the city’s general fund, but at a City Council work session Tuesday, officials pondered earmarking those dollars for educational and community-outreach efforts regarding cannabis.

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Have Aspen's pot shops runneth over?

May 25, 2016 — 

The number of marijuana shops in Aspen has reached the level that Mayor Steve Skadron fears their “proliferation” is negatively shaping the city’s image and tainting its brand.

Skadron called a City Council work session Tuesday to begin dialogue about whether the municipal government should restrict the number of licenses to sell marijuana.

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City's eighth pot dispensary on deck

April 9, 2016 — 

The former owner of The Meatball Shack has submitted an application to open the city’s eighth recreational marijuana dispensary in the downtown core.

Michael Gurtman, who shut down The Meatball Shack last month after four and a half years, said the new dispensary, if approved by the state and city, will be called “Best Day Ever,” and will be located on the second floor of the same building on Cooper Avenue that houses the Silverpeak Apothecary dispensary.

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Pitkin County approves outdoor pot 'experiment'

March 23, 2016 — 

A majority of Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to allow an already-permitted indoor marijuana facility to grow as many as 250 plants outdoors this summer.

Commissioners termed the deal a “one-year experiment” with the owners of Stash marijuana dispensary in Aspen, and they placed conditions on it, including the installation of a driveway camera on the property, keeping aesthetics in mind when building a fence around the outdoor grow and capping the number of outside plants at 250.

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Pitkin County denies pot edibles manufacturing business

March 23, 2016 — 

Pitkin County commissioners on Wednesday denied a local woman’s application to open a kitchen at the Aspen Business Center that would have manufactured marijuana-infused edibles.

“The (marijuana) legalization train left the station at a good clip, and I’m not sure our communities have caught up,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards. “The messaging is this isn’t a drug. This isn’t serious. It’s just a piece of candy.”

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Pitkin County officials discuss marijuana edibles

March 15, 2016 — 

Pitkin County commissioners are concerned about how marijuana edibles might be manufactured and marketed in their own backyard, as well as how they can be kept from children.

Commissioners hosted a far-ranging discussion Tuesday that was prompted by an application for a kitchen at the Aspen Business Center that would produce marijuana edibles if the board approves. Participants included those who work with youth, health officials, law enforcement and environmental health officials.

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Aspen pot shop robber faces up to 12 years in prison

March 7, 2016 — 

The 22-year-old man who robbed an Aspen marijuana dispensary with a hammer in July pleaded guilty Monday to three felonies and faces between four and 12 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

As part of a plea deal, Hayden May pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and aggravated motor-vehicle theft. There is no deal on sentencing, which will occur April 18.

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Aspen pot sales top $8.3 million in 2015

March 3, 2016 — 

The seven marijuana dispensaries in Aspen sold more than $8.3 million worth of medical and recreational pot during 2015, according to statistics from the city’s Finance Department.

“That’s an incredible number,” said Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn. “That’s impressive.”

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Commissioners want more info on pot business

February 24, 2016 — 

Pitkin County commissioners want more information about a business that wants to produce marijuana bubblegum at the Aspen Business Center before deciding on whether to approve its license.

And not only does the county need more information about whether exhaust fans were properly installed, whether a child care business is nearby the proposed location and how waste will be disposed, at least two commissioners want general input from the community about any concerns.

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Marijuana farm passes the first smell inspection

February 10, 2016 — 

When it comes to marijuana odors coming out of a Basalt-area grow operation, the real proof the problem has been fixed will come this summer.

That was the consensus Tuesday from both Pitkin County commissioners and two neighbors who live in the Holland Hills subdivision near High Valley Farms. Meanwhile, commissioners will continue to hold quarterly meetings to review the odor problem.

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New retail marijuana shop opens in Eagle-Vail

January 20, 2016 — 

EAGLE-VAIL — A new recreational marijuana shop, High Country Healing, has opened on the “Green Mile” along U.S. Highway 6.

The shop will hold a grand opening celebration Jan. 22 with food, live music and specials throughout the store. Together with a local development company, the shop is next to the Route 6 Café in Eagle-Vail.

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Aspen post office box yields green surprise

January 7, 2016 — 

The former owner of Johnny McGuire’s Deli received a surprise Thursday when he showed up to collect his mail at the Aspen post office.

The man, who hadn’t been to his post office box in four months, found an envelope in his stack of mail that caught his attention, said Aspen Police Detective Jeff Fain. The envelope had been destined for someone in Ireland and was sent Aug. 17, but the person who sent it neglected to fill out the return address, he said.

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Can the pot industry one day rival skiing?

January 20, 2016 — 

EAGLE COUNTY — Skiing is king in the Vail Valley — always has been. But will it always be so?

Winter sports will probably always dominate the Vail Valley’s economy. Despite years of effort, the town of Vail collects about 70 percent of its annual sales taxes during the ski season. That could change in the future, and perhaps the near future.

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Alleged pot grower to stand trial

December 23, 2015 — 

A 37-year-old Crystal River Valley man will stand trial on charges of growing and distributing marijuana, manufacturing marijuana concentrate and child abuse, a District Court judge decided Tuesday.

Richard Fanguy was arrested after Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputies searched his home Aug. 27, located off Highway 133 between Carbondale and Redstone, and found 12.2 pounds of marijuana, more than 100 marijuana plants and equipment to turn marijuana into concentrate, sometimes called hashish.

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Aspen marijuana dispensaries seize holiday business

December 26, 2014 — 

The greeter at the new Green Dragon location on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall checks IDs and bounces his head to the music playing. Inside, the budtenders, as they’re called, field a wide range of questions. “How much does a vaporizer cost?” “Why’s the Super Joint more expensive than the other ones?”

It’s a bit more low-key a few blocks away at the new Leaf Aspen location, where an upbeat Cally Shadowshot beams about the store’s signature products and its homegrown marijuana supply of 40 pounds that’s being cultivated for the dispensary’s inventory.

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Aspen and Colorado marketers legally restricted from marketing marijuana

December 14, 2015 — 

A recent study showed that 6.8 percent of visitors said legal marijuana was their driving force to vacation in Colorado, but both state and Aspen tourism officials have no plans to market the state for its pot.

“We operate on Forest Service land, so you do the math,” said Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing for Aspen Skiing Co.

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Change in ownership looms for Aspen marijuana dispensary

December 7, 2015 — 

Alternative Medical Solutions, one of downtown Aspen’s seven recreational cannabis dispensaries, is set to change ownership for $382,000.

Steamboat Springs resident Kenneth Porteous is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the Local Licensing Authority regarding his application to buy the business, located upstairs at 106 S. Mill St.

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Council upholds license approvals for Osiris pot grow

November 19, 2015 — 

The last of a series of marijuana business applications to go through the former city of Glenwood Springs licensing review process before new rules were enacted this summer got the green light to proceed from City Council Thursday night.

Council voted 6-1 to uphold city licensing officer Angela Roff’s decision last month to grant licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a cultivation, manufacturing and retail marijuana sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

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Chamber, library file joint appeal of pot shop OK

October 16, 2015 — 

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Garfield County Public Library District have teamed up to appeal the recent city decision to grant a license for a new downtown marijuana shop.

The chamber and library boards on Friday issued an appeal to Glenwood Springs City Council regarding license hearing officer Angela Roff’s Oct. 9 decision to approve the Kind Castle retail marijuana store at 818 Grand Ave.

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Denver warning issued over Aspen pot capsules

September 29, 2015 — 

Concerns over the manufacturing process prompted a Denver health agency on Friday to warn consumers about a marijuana-related edible product made in Aspen.

The Denver Department of Environmental Health removed Rx Green’s Autopilots Omega 3 & THC capsules from the shelves of Denver dispensaries and destroyed them, said Danica Lee, the department’s food safety section manager. The agency warned consumers to destroy any of the product made before Sept. 17, according to a statement.

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High Valley Farms lives to grow another year

September 23, 2015 — 

Jordan Lewis said he was “literally betting the farm” on his pot-growing facility near Basalt. The gamble paid off — for the time being at least.

Pitkin County commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to renew separate, one-year licenses for High Valley Farms, which is co-owned by Lewis and is the cannabis supplier to Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen and other marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

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Shops expect big crowds for tax holiday

September 13, 2015 — 

EAGLE COUNTY — Marijuana enthusiasts can add one more holiday to their calendars. On Sept. 16, recreational pot will be sold without state-added taxes.

Those taxes were approved by voters in 2013, a year after the state approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the possession and retail sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Since revenue has exceeded projections in the ballot measure, refunds are being given in the form of a one-day price break.

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Council gives final OK to new pot business rules

August 22, 2015 — 

The city of Glenwood Springs has completed new rules for marijuana businesses, including the addition of a special-use review and hearing process, and an expanded 900-foot setback between retail pot shops and related businesses.

City Council on Thursday approved the amended ordinance without any further discussion or public comment. The issue was aired during an Aug. 6 public hearing when council agreed to the new rules on first reading.

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Approval granted for Green Dragon to change hands

August 12, 2015 — 

A Denver-based cannabis company that already owns a retail and medical marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs won local approval Wednesday to acquire the Green Dragon’s local holdings.

Greenwerkz already received approval in May from Aspen’s licensing authority for a transfer of ownership involving the Green Dragon retail store and medical dispensary in Aspen.

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Basalt-area marijuana farm's license in peril

August 11, 2015 — 

In a highly charged meeting Tuesday, Pitkin County commissioners told the owners of High Valley Farms, a marijuana grow facility that debuted last year, that its license is in serious peril because of its chronic stench.

The meeting was the latest in a series of county commissioner work sessions over the smell wafting from High Valley Farms, located in the Basalt area. And each time, Jordan Lewis, co-owner of the greenhouses, has assured commissioners and neighbors the stench will be eradicated. The neighbors also have been making repeated claims that the odor hasn’t gone away, continually and negatively impacting their lifestyle.

At Tuesday’s meeting the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners room overflowed with frustrated Holland Hills residents, Lewis defended his Basalt-area operation and accused the neighbors of engaging in a “mob mentality,” and commissioners showed lost confidence that the smell will be arrested.

Near the meeting’s end, commissioners said the license is in jeopardy, while Commissioner George Newman called for its immediate suspension, which could not be done at a work session and would require a special hearing.

Instead, on Sept. 23, Lewis will learn the fate of his farm, which furnishes both medical and recreational cannabis products to his Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen. That’s when commissioners will formally meet to decide whether to renew his license, which expires the next day.

If commissioners don’t renew the license, they could give High Valley Farms 30 days to wind down its operation.

“If you have a skunk living under your deck, would you live with it or would you remove it?” Newman said. “I would suggest you remove it. The residents of Holland Hills are asking us to remove it.”

When commissioners granted High Valley Farms its agriculture license last year, a condition of the approval was that it would not emit marijuana-type smells. And the county’s retail marijuana licensing regulations also state, “All retail marijuana establishments shall be equipped with a proper ventilation system so that odors are filtered and do not materially interfere with the enjoyment of adjoining property.”

Commissioner Chair Steve Child apologized to both the neighbors and Lewis for last year’s approval.

“I think the county did a disservice in approving what we did approve,” he said. “I wish we could have cut the size of the operation in half. If you had two greenhouses (there are four at the farm), you would be in a better position to have less odor and less damage if you didn’t get renewed.”

Lewis asked the commissioners to “take steps in the meantime to look at this fair and objectively,” saying there’s “a certain mob mentality” among residents who want to see his farm closed. That drew a chorus of boos, prompting County Manager Jon Peacock to warn one part-time resident — Dr. Ted DeWeese, a professor of radiation oncology and molecular radiation at Johns Hopkins University — to pipe down or leave the meeting.

“Even if we didn’t have a single marijuana plant in that facility, we would still be getting complaints,” said Lewis, who was emphatic that the smell will be eradicated once a new technology comes online.

Commissioner Rachel Richards, however, along with other commissioners, said Lewis has made those same assurances in the past. Yet the smell has been resilient, despite such odor-supression tactics as a mist droplet system, a dry-air vapor system and odor destruction through ionization. Lewis said the next strategy is to install a hydroxyl unit.

“We have been pressing as hard as humanly possible and we have spared no expenses at all on getting this done,” Lewis said.

But commissioners said the residents are bearing the brunt of Lewis’ experiments.

“We’ve extended our goodwill and trust to you, and we’ve asked (the neighbors) to live with too much when it comes to what those results have been, and we take the blame for that,” Richards said.

Richards said the neighbors are living with a “certain anxiety” in their “day-to-day lives that shouldn’t exist.”

Some residents expressed fear of potential health problems.

“It’s affected my health,” Nancy Booth said.

“It’s not getting any better, and it won’t get any better,” she said of the smell.

DeWeese said that the greater the odor, the greater levels of THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — which can pose health problems. The doctor said the situation playing out at High Valley Farms is reminiscent of when people were exposed to high levels of mercury in Chesapeake Bay.

Other residents said a double-standard appears to be in play. Contractor David Lambert said he had been red-tagged twice by the county because his business created dust, which resulted in complaints. But the county hasn’t taken any punitive action against High Valley Farms, he said.

Another neighbor, Chris Cox, said: “To me, this is pollution going into our air. If it was a company sending pollution into the river, it would be shut down. If it was noise, it would be shut down.”

Residents said the smell gets in their hair and clothes. Some said they can’t go outside to barbecue food because the smell reeks so bad. Others said they have to shut their windows during the heat of the summer.

To his defense, Lewis said he knows of at least five legal or illegal grow operations in the area. Legal ones could be caregivers growing medical cannabis.

“Holland Hills has five grows in that neighborhood,” he said. “There is also illegal manufacturing in Basalt. These things exist. There’s not just a few of them, there’s a lot of them.”

He added: “A lot of the complaints have come during the nighttime. At night our ventilation system is running at an absolute minimum. ... At a certain point we all have to acknowledge that there are other factors.”

Commissioner Patti Clapper called for the county to investigate other legal and illegal grows near Highway 82, “because you can smell it all the way from Emma to Aspen Village on some days.”

The county launched its own probe into the smells coming from High Valley Farms starting June 9, when Environmental Health Manager Kurt Dahl began to monitor the smell. He recorded faint, moderate, strong or very strong odors on 19 different occasions from June 11 through July 31.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Aspen Pot shop robber faces decades in prison, held on $100,000 cash bond

August 11, 2015 — 

The 21-year-old Aspen man charged with robbing a local marijuana dispensary last month is back in town and facing decades in prison for his crime spree.

Hayden May appeared in District Court in Aspen on Tuesday, where District Judge Gail Nichols ordered him held on a $100,000 cash or surety bond.

By far the most serious charge against him is aggravated robbery of a controlled substance while armed with a deadly weapon. If he’s convicted of that count, he faces a minimum prison term of 16 years and a maximum of 48 years, Nichols said.

May also is charged with felony theft, which mandates a prison term of one-to-three years upon conviction, as well as a harassment charge, which calls for a term of as long as six months. He also will face a charge of aggravated motor vehicle theft, said prosecutor Andrea Bryan.

May robbed Stash marijuana dispensary, 710 E. Durant Ave., on July 28 while armed with a hammer, police have said. He told employees there, who also were his friends, that he was desperate before walking behind the counter and stealing several large jars of marijuana.

After fleeing the store, May stole a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe from a former employer in Aspen’s East End and apparently headed east on Interstate 70. Police in St. Louis attempted to pull him over the next day west of St. Louis, but he refused to stop and led them on a high-speed chase that reached speeds of 100 mph.

May didn’t stop until he crashed head-on into a police car, injuring the officer inside, then hit a utility pole, according to St. Louis police.

In St. Louis, he was charged with felony assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, felony resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance, said Ed Magee of the St. Louis Prosecutor’s Office. May was released to the custody of Aspen police officers Aug. 9, Magee said, and will have to be brought back later to face the St. Louis charges.

In Aspen on Tuesday, Judge Nichols also enacted a protection order mandating no contact with the two Stash employees he allegedly robbed.

Bryan told the judge that May might have stolen a firearm — he’s a suspect in the theft of a .45-caliber handgun from a car parked in Snowmass Village — and that he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.

The gun was not recovered from the vehicle May stole and has not yet been found in the Aspen area.

May also has a previous criminal record that includes charges of theft, obstruction of justice and criminal mischief from 2013, though it was unclear Tuesday where those charges originated.

May declined to speak in court Tuesday. He is expected back in court Monday.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 9, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

Council’s action, which will be considered on second and final reading Aug. 20, would amend the city’s retail and medical marijuana codes, adding the new land-use review and revised setback provisions.

Under the new special permit process, public hearings would be held before the Glenwood Planning and Zoning Commission for recommendation, but City Council would hold the final decision.

The location permit and license to do business would be dealt with as part of the same application, city attorney Karl Hanlon explained.

The more discretionary permit process would replace the current process of having the city license hearing officer review new retail and medical marijuana establishments. Annual license renewals would still be handled by the hearing officer.

Currently, only marijuana cultivation facilities, which are limited to the city’s single industrial zone district along Devereux Road, must go through a land-use hearing process.

In addition, council agreed to increase the required setback between marijuana stores or dispensaries, cultivation and manufacturing facilities from 325 feet under the current rules to 900 feet.

That change would allow all existing marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs to continue as is and keep the door open for new establishments in the fringes of town, but would effectively prevent any new shops in the downtown core.

ADDRESSING PUBLIC CONCERNS

That was one of the concerns expressed by the public and other downtown business owners when council decided in late May to impose a 90-day moratorium on new license applications while the regulations were reviewed.

Council looked at three options for code revisions before settling on the greater setback and combined new review process.

“I think we would be setting ourselves up for what happened the last time if we don’t combine them,” Councilman Todd Leahy said in reference to a lengthy July 2 hearing when council upheld on appeal license hearing officer Angela Roff’s rejection of two retail license applications.

That meeting dragged on until 1:30 a.m., well past council’s usual 11 p.m. curfew.

“I don’t want to have a repeat of that,” Leahy said. “This does add another layer of bureaucracy, but it gives the town what it’s looking for.”

Council opted to reject a third option that would have banned new marijuana businesses altogether within the Downtown Development Authority boundaries, and render three existing businesses in that area as non-conforming.

One of those businesses would be the Green Joint retail store and Green Medicine Wellness medical dispensary located at 11th and Grand; a prospect that owner Dan Sullivan said was “not an option.”

‘UNACCEPTABLE’

While existing businesses can continue even if they don’t conform to newly adopted rules, any sale of the business or major modification to the premises would not be allowed.

“We have six years of blood, sweat and tears in this business, and to then face the possibility that we would not have a business? That’s unacceptable,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also lobbied for the city to separately consider imposing an extra local sales or excise tax on recreational marijuana sales to help generate new revenues for the city. Any local tax on the marijuana trade would require a city vote at a regular election.

Council members reiterated that was not their intention in revisiting the rules to put existing businesses at risk.

“This is a really good option, and gives us discretion in what goes where while considering the needs of the neighborhood,” Councilwoman Kathryn Trauger said.

“I also like that it’s legally defensible,” she said of a concern that has been expressed about the current marijuana license application and review process.

Councilman Matt Steckler objected to including the new permit review and voted against the amended ordinance, but said he could go along with the greater setback provision.

Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 7, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

Council’s action, which will be considered on second and final reading Aug. 20, would amend the city’s retail and medical marijuana codes, adding the new land-use review and revised setback provisions.

Under the new special permit process, public hearings would be held before the Glenwood Planning and Zoning Commission for recommendation, but City Council would hold the final decision.

The location permit and license to do business would be dealt with as part of the same application, city attorney Karl Hanlon explained.

The more discretionary permit process would replace the current process of having the city license hearing officer review new retail and medical marijuana establishments. Annual license renewals would still be handled by the hearing officer.

Currently, only marijuana cultivation facilities, which are limited to the city’s single industrial zone district along Devereux Road, must go through a land-use hearing process.

In addition, council agreed to increase the required setback between marijuana stores or dispensaries, cultivation and manufacturing facilities from 325 feet under the current rules to 900 feet.

That change would allow all existing marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs to continue as is and keep the door open for new establishments in the fringes of town, but would effectively prevent any new shops in the downtown core.

ADDRESSING PUBLIC CONCERNS

That was one of the concerns expressed by the public and other downtown business owners when council decided in late May to impose a 90-day moratorium on new license applications while the regulations were reviewed.

Council looked at three options for code revisions before settling on the greater setback and combined new review process.

“I think we would be setting ourselves up for what happened the last time if we don’t combine them,” Councilman Todd Leahy said in reference to a lengthy July 2 hearing when council upheld on appeal license hearing officer Angela Roff’s rejection of two retail license applications.

That meeting dragged on until 1:30 a.m., well past council’s usual 11 p.m. curfew.

“I don’t want to have a repeat of that,” Leahy said. “This does add another layer of bureaucracy, but it gives the town what it’s looking for.”

Council opted to reject a third option that would have banned new marijuana businesses altogether within the Downtown Development Authority boundaries, and render three existing businesses in that area as non-conforming.

One of those businesses would be the Green Joint retail store and Green Medicine Wellness medical dispensary located at 11th and Grand; a prospect that owner Dan Sullivan said was “not an option.”

‘UNACCEPTABLE’

While existing businesses can continue even if they don’t conform to newly adopted rules, any sale of the business or major modification to the premises would not be allowed.

“We have six years of blood, sweat and tears in this business, and to then face the possibility that we would not have a business? That’s unacceptable,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also lobbied for the city to separately consider imposing an extra local sales or excise tax on recreational marijuana sales to help generate new revenues for the city. Any local tax on the marijuana trade would require a city vote at a regular election.

Council members reiterated that was not their intention in revisiting the rules to put existing businesses at risk.

“This is a really good option, and gives us discretion in what goes where while considering the needs of the neighborhood,” Councilwoman Kathryn Trauger said.

“I also like that it’s legally defensible,” she said of a concern that has been expressed about the current marijuana license application and review process.

Councilman Matt Steckler objected to including the new permit review and voted against the amended ordinance, but said he could go along with the greater setback provision.

Council set to weigh pot rule revisions

August 6, 2015 — 

A ban on new marijuana businesses in the downtown core, a special permit review that would involve the city’s planning commission and a greatly increased 900-foot setback between shops are among options before Glenwood Springs City Council this Thursday.

The options were among the ideas discussed at a council work session in early July regarding possible revisions to the city’s existing licensing and land-use regulations for retail and medical marijuana businesses.

Council is set to consider on first reading an amended ordinance making one or more of the various rules changes that have since been refined by city staff, according to Community Development Director Andrew McGregor.

A change in the required distance between marijuana establishments from the existing setback of 325 feet is the one rules fix that gained the most support from council after it imposed a 90-day moratorium on new marijuana license and land-use applications in late May.

The moratorium was in response to public concerns about a proliferation of new retail marijuana license applications in the downtown area between Sixth and 10th streets.

A change to 900 feet in the minimum setback from one business to another would allow existing facilities to remain, but would preclude any new businesses in the downtown area, McGregor said in a memo to council for the Thursday meeting.

“No existing uses would be rendered nonconforming,” he said of one of the concerns expressed by council members in changing the rules with businesses already in place.

One proposed new retail shop at 818 Grand Ave. that is slated for a license hearing next month would, however, be nonconforming if it gets approved, he said.

Changing the setback has its pluses in achieving council’s goals, McGregor indicated, by maintaining the status quo in the downtown area and north Glenwood while keeping opportunities open for south and west Glenwood areas.

The other two options up for consideration, including a ban on any marijuana businesses within the designated boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority, or a full special-use permit review for new proposals, would be far more limiting.

A ban in the downtown core would render several existing businesses, including two medical marijuana dispensaries and the Green Joint/Green Medicine Wellness retail and medical facility, as nonconforming.

That would mean they may not be allowed a license renewal or transfer of ownership if any major changes are made to the respective businesses.

“This option might have merit if there is a perception that marijuana sales are not compatible with our most concentrated tourist and hospitality area of the city,” McGregor wrote in his memo.

A special-use permit for marijuana businesses would add an extra, more discretionary layer of regulatory review through a formal public hearing process, he noted.

Such a permit would have to be considered by the city’s planning and zoning commission, whose decision could be appealed to City Council.

Though a more public process that is “legally defensible,” and one used by numerous other communities in Colorado that have allowed sales of retail marijuana, it does increase the time and cost needed for new businesses to gain their approvals, McGregor noted.

“It does become a discretionary process, thus reducing certainty and predictability on behalf of the prospective business owner,” he said in his memo.

When the moratorium on new marijuana licenses was put in place, council decided not to have it apply to pending applications, several of which were already in the pipeline at the time.

Since then, two new license requests, including one that would have included a marijuana edibles kitchen, have been denied by the city’s license hearing official. Those decisions were upheld on appeal by City Council in early July.

One other new retail license decision is expected this week, and two additional applications that were already in process are pending formal hearings on Aug. 12 and Sept. 9.

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