Osiris makes case to uphold marijuana approvals | AspenTimes.com

Osiris makes case to uphold marijuana approvals

John Stroud
jstroud@postindependent.com

The proposed Osiris marijuana cultivation and retail sales operation at 1520 Devereux Road has been added to the marijuana licensing appeals that will be heard by Glenwood Springs City Council on Nov. 5.

One of two would-be new Glenwood Springs marijuana business operators scheduled to appear before City Council tonight for a license appeal hearing is defending itself against claims that its planned cultivation facility would be too much of an environmental risk to the city.

To the contrary, the planned Osiris greenhouse facility on Devereux Road intends to use environmentally friendly growing techniques aimed at eliminating the need for chemical pesticides and reducing the operation's carbon footprint, proponents argue in a written response to the appeal filed with the city last week.

"While it is true that the applicant has stated that it will be implementing new technology and growing practices and using equipment that is state-of-the-art in the industry, it has never stated … that it would be engaged in any sort of chemical production or that the equipment, technology and growing practices are 'unprecedented in the industry,'" Basalt attorney Spencer Schiffer wrote in the response.

That was one of the claims made by appellant Kelly McKendrick of Glenwood Springs and others who signed Kendrick's form letter forcing an appeal to City Council seeking to overturn city hearing officer Angela Roff's decision last month to approve a license for Osiris to operate a marijuana cultivation, products manufacturing and retail sales business at 2150 Devereux Road.

The appeal is one of two that come before council tonight. The other involves a retail license approval for the proposed Kind Castle to operate a marijuana shop at 818 Grand Ave.

In addition to several citizens and downtown business owners, the Kind Castle decision was also appealed by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Garfield County Public Library District boards, and by Colorado Mountain College. All three of those entities operate facilities within proximity to the Grand Avenue location.

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McKendrick, in his appeal to the Osiris operation, claimed that the facility would be introducing "chemical production" and that the process was untested, comparing it to heavy industry.

"As a city, we would not let a mining company or pesticide company enter our city limits with a new operation, with new ways of production that have not been (thoroughly) tested, vetted and proven at a large scale," McKendrick wrote in the appeal.

Schiffer responded that the comparison "demonstrates not only the alarmist approach (McKendrick) takes to advance his personal agenda in opposition to legalized marijuana, but the desperation with which he does it."

Schiffer notes that owner/operator Michael Gurtman of Aspen did explain at a Sept. 9 license review hearing before Roff that the proposed facility would be "unique and unlike any other establishment in the city" due to its use of "organic" cultivation process and sustainable operating methods.

"Rather than creating any potentially harmful chemicals or products, it will be mitigating or obviating the need for the use of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, Freon or harmful waste products," Schiffer wrote.

He also took issue with the argument that, because Glenwood Springs already has one marijuana cultivation operation, the Green Dragon facility also on Devereux Road, the city doesn't need another one.

"Just because Green Dragon was the first does not mean it is the best or that it should by default be the only one, and therefore have a monopoly," Schiffer argues.

Green Dragon was recently purchased by another of the marijuana retail operators in Glenwood Springs, Denver-based Greenwerkz, which now has two retail locations in town.

The other operator up for a license appeal hearing tonight, Kind Castle owner Raymond Strickoff, did not submit a written response prior to tonight's meeting but is expected to make an oral case for upholding Roff's licensing approval.

Most of the objections to the Kind Castle license have to do with its highly visible downtown location, which those appealing the decision said is not appropriate for a family-oriented tourist town and high-traffic area that's frequented by locals.

Last summer, Roff turned down two proposed downtown shops in the face of significant opposition, determining that the needs and desires of Glenwood's adult community already were met by existing marijuana shops.