Pitkin County steps back on medical marijuana regulations
June 8, 2011
ASPEN – With federal authorities warning they may prosecute everyone from licensed growers of medical marijuana to government entities that regulate the industry, review of proposed medicinal pot regulations in Pitkin County might be on hold.
The scheduled review of the proposed rules by the Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday evening was abruptly canceled. Lance Clarke, deputy director of community development for the county, said he intended to make an appearance at the meeting place to explain the cancellation to any members of the public or representatives of the marijuana business who showed up.
He referred questions to county attorney John Ely, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. According to Clarke, Ely didn’t feel it was appropriate for the Planning and Zoning Commission to take action until he could advise county commissioners on the issues at stake.
Commissioners were scheduled to take up the proposed regulations on first reading Wednesday; the meeting with Ely will either occur first, or take the place of their review of the draft regulations.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Clarke said.
The county, and other local jurisdictions in Colorado, have until July 1 to establish their own regulations and licensing procedures for the medical marijuana industry, or to prohibit such facilities altogether. In jurisdictions that take no action, state standards will apply.
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While Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed changes to Colorado’s medical marijuana laws just last week, other states have been leery about taking action, given questions about whether the federal government will permit states to violate the federal drug law.
Colorado’s new pot law was signed hours after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised to clarify the Justice Department’s position on state medical marijuana laws. Federal attorneys in Colorado and other marijuana states have warned state authorities that they’re putting state employees at risk of federal drug prosecutions when they regulate marijuana, which is illegal under federal law.