Carbondale may crack down on caregiver marijuana grows |

Carbondale may crack down on caregiver marijuana grows

A marijuana plant is grown under lights at the Boulder County Caregivers in Boulder, Colo. on Friday, July 24, 2009. It's all legal and it's all taxed. But this marijuana dispensary and nearly 60 others that are serving a growing number of medical marijuana users operate with little oversight by state or local authorities. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

CARBONDALE – Medical marijuana grow operations by caregivers in Carbondale residential zones may be barred under local industry regulations being considered by the Town Board.

The latest consideration in the town’s ongoing discussion of the issue comes in light of an Oct. 28 incident in which three armed men entered an unlocked home in a Carbondale neighborhood where at least one medical marijuana caregivers resided.

The suspects fled with a large amount of cash and some marijuana, and one of the residents was kicked in the head and suffered minor injuries. Carbondale police are still looking for leads into the suspects’ identities.

However, the incident pointed out the potential conflicts and safety concerns with having commercial-type transactions taking place in residential neighborhoods where there aren’t the security measures that storefront operations are required to have.

“My feeling is it doesn’t qualify as a home occupation under our zoning regulations,” Mayor Stacey Patch Bernot said during a discussion of the town’s proposed medical marijuana regulations Tuesday night.

Colorado’s medical marijuana laws allow caregivers to have up to five patients – with a doctor’s clearance – to use medical marijuana for a qualifying condition.

While individual patients are protected by the state constitution to possess two ounces of marijuana or grow up to six plants in their homes for personal use, it’s believed that caregiver grows can be regulated through zoning. Caregivers are also allowed to grow up to six plants for each of their patients.

“I am impacted by a caregiver in my neighborhood,” said Jeanette Whitcomb of Carbondale. “I’m impacted by the odor, the traffic, security … I believe in medical marijuana, and yes, they have a constitutional right, but I also have a right to be protected in my home and my neighborhood.”

Carbondale trustees are also considering an extra six-month moratorium on any new medical marijuana facilities, including commercial grow operations, beyond the state’s imposed July 2011 moratorium.

That will give the town extra time to see how many of the existing 11 medical marijuana dispensaries in Carbondale remain after the state’s new rules take effect.

Among the town’s other considerations may be to limit the number of dispensaries that can exist at one time. Trustees have tentatively decided to limit dispensaries to commercial zone districts, and commercial grow operations are likely to be limited to industrial zones in the town.

However, commercial grows could also be prohibited within town limits if enough trustees feel that the demand is now met by Garfield County voters’ decision last week to allow commercial grows in unincorporated parts of the county.

The Town Board is expected to resume discussion of the regulations in December.

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