Glenwood considers medical marijuana regulations
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs City Council is considering options to regulate the town’s growing medical marijuana industry.
Citizens’ concerns caused Councilwoman Shelley Kaup to bring up the topic – specifically the location in which dispensaries are allowed to operate within the city limits of Glenwood Springs – at last week’s City Council meeting.
“I would like to suggest to council that it’s time that we look into having some local regulation on dispensaries,” Kaup said.
She said that she has received “a few calls,” some of which came from parents who were concerned about the potential of a dispensary opening in the Van Rand Center, adjacent to Glenwood Springs High School.
So far, the council has taken a “wait and see” approach, but Kaup says it’s time to take action.
“We’ve been watching what the state is going to do, and I think it’s pretty clear that the state is, at this point anyway, just looking at licensing issues, physician and patient relationship, and not really the types of local limitations that we might put in on placement [of dispensaries],” she said.
Councilman Russ Arensman supported Kaup’s stand, noting Carbondale recently created a task force to address issues related to dispensaries in that community.
“I think it’s a legitimate area for us to take a look at, in terms of zoning and location,” Arensman said.
The Carbondale Board of Trustees appointed a 14-member Medical Marijuana Facilities Advisory Group to study issues raised by concerned citizens regarding location of dispensaries and grow operations.
Glenwood Springs currently has a half-dozen dispensaries in town, and more could pop up. Kaup said she wants regulations in place before the situation gets out of control.
While other council members supported further discussion, Councilman Leo McKinney called for a fair and balanced discussion that includes some representatives of the industry, as well.
“I would like to make sure that when we do have this discussion, that we are not reacting out of fear from decades of propaganda,” McKinney said.
McKinney seemed reluctant to regulate an industry that has sprouted hundreds of new businesses across Colorado in the past year, in spite of the recession.
“What problem has come up because of it?” McKinney asked.
The pace with which dispensaries have popped up across state is not what voters approved when Amendment 20 passed in 2000, responded Mayor Bruce Christensen.
“I share, to a pretty strong degree, Shelley’s concern that we, at this point, owe it to our community to at least explore what our options are,” Christensen said. “Because I don’t think that any of us who voted for that amendment expected that there was going to be a pot dispensary on every street corner, or several per block.”
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi said he would like to include other municipalities in the discussion, as a way to put some pressure on the state Legislature to develop a universal and enforceable set of regulations.
The council directed City Attorney Jan Shute to look into the zoning regulations other municipalities have come up with, and agreed to have a discussion with the public regarding the issue at a future council meeting. The date for that discussion has yet to be set.
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