Commissioners to change county medical marijuana rules |

Commissioners to change county medical marijuana rules

Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday preliminarily approved altering county regulations that govern medical marijuana.

In addition, commissioners OK’d a new rule for all marijuana-related applications addressed by county staff that will allow the county to charge $350 an hour if an application requires significant amounts of staff time.

The first change to the medical marijuana rules will allow medical dispensaries to sell pipes, vaporizers and other methods of ingestion. That change came about after a request this summer from the owner of Aspen Roaring Fork Wellness in Basalt, who complained that some older members of his clientele needed honest guidance in choosing an appropriate vaporizer.

Current Pitkin County rules don’t allow medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries in the county to sell paraphernalia. State regulations and city of Aspen rules, however, allow the sale of paraphernalia at dispensaries.

Commissioners have said the anti-paraphernalia regulation was meant to stop marijuana marketing to young people in the form of T-shirts and hats promoting the drug.

“You still couldn’t sell those types of items” under the new rule change, Commissioner Rachel Richards said.

Another change to the county’s marijuana rules would raise the price of an application for a medical marijuana dispensary from $1,000 to $2,500. The change is necessary because county staff often end up spending far more time on applications than is covered by the $1,000, Pitkin County Attorney John Ely said.

Now, county staff will calculate how much time they spend on an application, whether medical or recreational, using the $350 an hour figure, which comes from the amount charged by the county’s Community Development Department for development application fees, Ely said.

In other words, an applicant will receive about seven hours of staff time devoted to their medical or recreational marijuana application for the $2,500 fee, based on the $350 an hour figure, Ely said.

Recreational marijuana applicants must pay $5,000 an application, though half that amount goes to the state of Colorado, he said.

Richards also asked that marijuana applications not only be referred to the appropriate caucus for consideration but also to the caucus next door.

Exact language addressing the changes will be presented to the board at a future date. The new regulations will be enacted once commissioners approve the final language.

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