Glenwood extends moratorium on medical marijuana facilities | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood extends moratorium on medical marijuana facilities

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – City Council on Thursday extended a moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities operating within city limits for another six months until July 1, 2011.

The move came as council members continued to work through a set of zoning regulations aimed at controlling where and how medical marijuana facilities – including distribution centers, infused products manufacturing and growing facilities – can operate in Glenwood Springs.

The city hopes to have those rules in place by the time the state of Colorado’s new licensing rules also go into effect next July, if not sooner.

In the meantime, council also heard requests for an exemption to the moratorium from representatives of medical marijuana centers now located in unincorporated parts of Garfield County.

Those facilities may be displaced after the county voted Nov. 2 to ban medical marijuana centers and the manufacture of infused products in unincorporated areas. Voters did agree to allow commercial growing to occur in unincorporated parts of the county.

Unless county officials determine that existing facilities are exempt from the new ban due to the fact that they existed prior to the election, they will be forced to relocate.

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“We’re looking at forced closures, despite their legality in every other aspect,” said Aspen attorney Lauren Maytin, who represents several medical marijuana businesses in the area.

“These people are now looking at losing their businesses and their livelihood because of the Garfield County vote,” she said. “The real loser in that will be the patients that they serve.

“To remedy the situation I would ask that you permit these businesses to transfer their location into Glenwood Springs,” Maytin requested.

Brian Ratke, owner of the Budding Health dispensary and its companion Mother’s Organics outside New Castle, said he has already been researching potential new locations in Glenwood. However, he said he wants to find a location that would meet whatever regulatory requirements the city comes up with.

However, City Council members were reluctant to make any exceptions to the moratorium.

“I hate to say it, but this is why we passed the moratorium in the first place,” Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen said. “I sympathize, and I support medical marijuana, but the county vote is not our issue.”

Councilman Russ Arensman noted that the city already has seven medical marijuana dispensaries.

“I think we’re adequately served,” he said.

The moratorium was extended, with no exemptions, on a 7-0 vote.

Council also continued to work through a set of recommended zoning regulations related to medical marijuana facilities, after the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission offered its input. Among the provisions to be included in the forthcoming zoning ordinance are:

• A 500-foot setback between facilities, and from K-12 schools;

• Dispensaries and infused products manufacturing could only occur within the cities commercial zone districts, possibly excluding the C2 downtown core zone;

• Growing of marijuana plants within residential zones would be limited to medical marijuana patients only, and six plants per home; caregiver growing operations in residential areas would be banned;

• Commercial growing operations would be limited to the city’s industrial zone districts.

However, some council members suggested banning commercial grows within city limits, since county voters agreed to allow commercial grows in unincorporated areas.

“With the county vote, I’d rather see the county deal with that aspect,” Councilman Dave Sturges said. “I’d rather save our industrial zone districts for more attractive uses. It’s not something we’re required to do, and there is now an option [for growing operations] outside the city.”

jstroud@postindependent.com