New Castle considers law for pot dispensaries
October 22, 2009
NEW CASTLE – The town government here has taken the first step in passing a new law aimed at regulating a likely new business in town – medical marijuana dispensaries.
Reacting to an overture from a dispensary already operating in a nearby town, the town council on Oct. 20 passed the new ordinance on first reading.
The next hearing concerning the proposed law will be before the town’s planning and zoning commission, possibly in November, according to the town clerk.
Town Administrator Andy Barton said the proposal came up several weeks ago, when a dispensary owner called the town offices to inquire about setting up a shop in New Castle.
The inquiry was debated at a subsequent town council meeting, and town attorney David McConaughy was directed to draft an ordinance patterned after one recently passed by the town of Basalt.
Similar discussions have taken place in towns throughout Colorado, including Telluride, Vail, Dillon, Eagle and others.
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In its opening clauses, New Castle’s draft ordinance declares that “marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law and Colorado state law, and the Town code prohibits the possession, use, display, consumption, or distribution of marijuana.”
But, the draft continues, “the Town acknowledges that the medical use of marijuana is authorized under state law” and that distribution “should only be permitted in limited areas within the Town under controlled conditions.”
The ordinance would permit a “medical marijuana facility” to set up a storefront anywhere in town as a “conditional use,” which requires a hearing before town officials, and that operation of a dispensary is “a prohibited home occupation.”
The law would set up guidelines for the permit process required to establish a dispensary, including prohibitions against operators recently convicted of crimes.
It requires that the operator submit a security plan to the local police for approval, and that all employees of dispensaries must get an employment license from the town’s “licensing officer.”
The license application would be investigated by the police department and the town clerk prior to the issuance, or denial of a license.