Marijuana operators lack Pitkin County licenses |

Marijuana operators lack Pitkin County licenses

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County hasn’t seen a single medical marijuana business apply for a county license since its licensing regulations were adopted in late June, but at least two of them will be urged to do so.

The Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue has sent the county a letter regarding two establishments that have applied for licenses with the state. The state agency is seeking verification that the businesses have been approved for a medical marijuana license in the county.

In addition, the county manager’s office has received a complaint regarding one of the two businesses alleging that it is operating without a county license, according to Susan Murphy, county executive office manager. The county intends to send a letter to both businesses informing them of the need to apply for the local license, she said.

“All we can say is, ‘In case you didn’t know,'” Murphy said.

The county manager’s office declined to reveal the names of the two businesses identified by the state, but there are likely others in operation that have yet to seek a county license.

When county commissioners approved the local licensing regulations in June, county officials believed there were three medical marijuana dispensaries operating in unincorporated areas of the county, plus some half-dozen grow sites. That tally was based on the number of businesses that stepped forward when the state required them to submit a license application in 2010; it does not include businesses operating within municipalities, such as the city of Aspen.

The county initially decided it wouldn’t get involved in licensing the medical marijuana industry, but when the state indicated that it wouldn’t license businesses that didn’t also have local licenses, commissioners adopted licensing rules and procedures.

“We thought that once we had the licenses, people would come in and apply,” said Lisa MacDonald, county paralegal. “We were kind of surprised.”

Under the county regulations, the task of issuing licenses rests with the county manager. It’s illegal to operate a medical marijuana business in unincorporated Pitkin County without having first obtained a local license as well as a state license, according to the local rules. The county regulations say any marijuana business that was operating before the regulations were adopted can continue to do so if it submits a license application on or before July 1 unless the application is denied.

Since the county hasn’t received any applications, no business made the July 1 submission deadline. The county’s license fee is $1,000; the renewal fee is $500.

The county regulations don’t allow a medical marijuana business within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care centers or alcohol- and drug-treatment facilities.

In addition, certain operations are prohibited in parts of the county based on neighborhood input. No marijuana enterprises of any kind are allowed in the portion of the Fryingpan Valley in unincorporated Pitkin County, no growing operations are permitted in the Snowmass/Capitol Creek area, and no dispensaries will appear on Redstone Boulevard.

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