Colorado cities, towns still unsure about medical pot |

Colorado cities, towns still unsure about medical pot

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

LONGMONT, Colo. – Some Colorado cities and towns are continuing to enact or extend moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries as they wait to see whether Gov. Bill Ritter signs a bill enacting regulations for the businesses.

Many municipalities around the state said throughout the past year that they would rather wait to see what the Legislature would do about regulating dispensaries before deciding on rules themselves. But now that the Legislature settled on new rules, the future of dispensaries is still unclear at cities and towns such as Longmont, Firestone and Frederick. Aurora officials are considering whether to allow voters to decide in November if dispensaries in the city should be banned altogether.

“We don’t want them in our community. I don’t know anybody that wants them in their community,” said Charles Sigman, the mayor of Dacono, a city about 25 miles north of Denver. “On the other hand, we didn’t want to open ourselves to a lawsuit or violate people’s state constitutional rights, either.”

The city adopted regulations for a special-use permit for dispensaries last fall, but officials approved a 6-month moratorium on new dispensaries last week after the Legislature passed its medical marijuana bill.

“Now we have a leg to stand on,” Sigman said. “Now that the state’s moving forward, let’s go ahead and put our moratorium in place and see how things play out.”

If the Legislature’s bill becomes law, new regulations will include criminal background checks for dispensary owners and they will be required to grow 70 percent of their marijuana. The state revenue department would also check that funding for dispensaries has no criminal ties, similar to conditions in the gaming industry. Opponents of the bill have objected to many of the provisions, including barring non-Colorado residents from opening a dispensary and application fees they say are excessive.

The bill includes a provision that Ritter requested, allowing cities and counties to ban dispensaries.

Last week, the Longmont City Council approved extending its current moratorium on dispensaries until June 30, 2011. City Attorney Eugene Mei said officials thought it was possible that any regulations they created would need to be changed when the Department of Revenue adopted new licensing rules.