Glenwood’s medical pot moratorium set to expire
September 9, 2011
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – At least two Glenwood Springs City Council members would like to see the city’s moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses extended until July of next year, same as a current state moratorium for granting new licenses.
As it stands, the city’s moratorium is set to expire Oct. 1. Any existing medical marijuana businesses that want to expand, relocate or make changes to their premises would be allowed to do so after that time.
That is, as long as they comply with the recent new zoning and licensing ordinances approved by Glenwood Springs City Council to regulate the industry locally.
The state’s moratorium would still prevent any new businesses from opening in Glenwood Springs that hadn’t applied with the state before its moratorium was extended, City Attorney Jan Shute said at a recent City Council meeting.
There is a chance that any pending license requests that were in process with the state before the moratorium was extended could be granted, she said.
But Shute said she is not aware of any prospective new businesses that would fit in that category.
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A its Sept. 1 meeting, the City Council formally adopted an ordinance establishing licensing procedures for medical marijuana dispensaries, commercial growing operations and manufacturing of marijuana-infused products for sale to authorized patients.
An amendment to the previously-adopted zoning ordinance was also approved, clearing the way for commercial growing to occur in the city’s industrial zone district along Devereux Road.
Both measures passed on separate 5-2 votes. Council members Dave Sturges and Mike Gamba were opposed.
At a previous council meeting, Gamba expressed concerns about acting on the ordinances until a broader community discussion on the issue of medical marijuana and its impact on youths could take place.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson and Mary Rippy, a teacher and member of the YouthZone organization board, both testified at the Aug. 18 council meeting that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of young people.
“I will reiterate that I think this whole thing has become a farce,” Gamba said at last week’s meeting. “At a minimum, I think we owe it to our youth to try to minimize the availability of medical marijuana to them.”
Sturges, who had missed the previous meeting, said he too would like to hear more from the larger community on the issue.
“I would support further discussion of the topic,” he said. “I don’t believe a lot of people feel comfortable coming forward with their questions and concerns on this issue, and I want to find a way to hear from them.”
Sturges also suggested revisiting the city moratorium before it is lifted next month, a move Gamba said he would support as well.
“I think we need to understand what lifting the moratorium would mean,” said Gamba, who believes the city should consider an outright ban on medical marijuana, a provision allowed for local jurisdictions under state law. “We should be advocating for more education and knowledge on this issue.”
Other council members did not weigh in on the moratorium question, but supported putting the zoning and licensing regulations in place.
“I see this as taking control of where and how these businesses can operate,” Councilman Leo McKinney said.
“By doing this, we are diminishing the black market for marijuana,” he added. “That’s where the bad things are happening. We’re also keeping the vulnerable people who need medical marijuana out of the black market.”
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi suggested that adopting the ordinances does not preclude further discussion of the issue.