Carbondale eyes moratorium on medical marijuana

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Town officials here, worried about the effects of Amendment 64, are thinking about imposing a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries.

Town administrator Jay Harrington said Wednesday that a proposed ordinance declaring the moratorium will be on the agenda of the Nov. 27 Board of Trustees meeting.

Colorado voters on Nov. 6 approved Amendment 64, which makes it legal for any state resident over the age of 21 to grow, possess and consume marijuana and provided for the legal sale of the drug. New state regulations governing the trade must be developed by July 2014.

Voters in 2000 approved a separate constitutional amendment to permit the cultivation, sale and consumption of medical marijuana, with a doctor’s prescription.

Harrington said the moratorium proposal is in reaction to interest that some local medical marijuana dispensaries have shown in converting their businesses to the sale of non-medical, recreational marijuana.

Such a conversion, Harrington said, is allowed under Amendment 64, but local governments will have to come up with a new set of laws to control the retail marijuana outlets, as well as the conversions.

He said some town officials feel it may be a problem to process applications for new medical marijuana businesses, while the town is busy trying to work out the implications of Amendment 64.

Two medical marijuana dispensaries recently saw their applications denied or withdrawn by the Board of Trustees, when a majority of the trustees concluded that the town’s need for such businesses may already had been met.

The town board had indicated it wanted to rewrite Carbondale’s medical marijuana regulation to address the question of need and other issues, but Harrington said that idea is on hold for now.

Harrington said the town is considering whether to allow the two rejected dispensaries to operate despite the moratorium, although they would be operating without a valid permit for the time being.

“We’re kind of, a little bit, back to square one,” said Harrington, referring to the town’s position regarding the sale of marijuana, medical or otherwise.