Hemp farm: It’s a matter of land use | AspenTimes.com

Hemp farm: It’s a matter of land use

Thanks to Scott Condon for bringing the issue of cannabis production in Emma to the public (“Hemp farm creates political stink in Emma”, July 10, 2020).

The production of cannabis is a growing issue affecting all three counties in our valley. Both marijuana, a psychoactive substance, and industrial hemp are strains of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. When flowering, both smell strongly.

Pitkin and Eagle counties have master plans with specific sections discouraging or not allowing the production of cannabis sp., or hemp. Specifically, the Emma Caucus Master Plan of Pitkin County and the Emma Character Area Plan of Eagle County discourage any cannabis production, as the area is deemed inappropriate. However, the Pitkin County attorney recently advised commissioners that master plans are only guiding documents and cannot be enforced.

Countless hours of volunteer citizen time have been spent developing these master plans, with assistance from our paid county staffs. I have contributed to each of the master plans above, volunteering my time as a professional landscape architect and land planner. I feel that my time has been wasted.

The Colorado Industrial Hemp Program manager replied to an email from me that “local governments, such as Pitkin County, have the ability to create their own zoning.”

The counties and municipalities in our valley need to create enforceable regulations or guidelines that reflect the desires and needs of their constituents. One tool is to make an amendment to the zoning regulations simply stating that cannabis production, of whatever strain, is subject to special review. Quantifiable standards must then be established for the review. Those standards could include things like lot size, distance from schools, public parks, bike paths, public roads and proximity to residential areas, as well as bonds for restoration of land and weed control.

I respectfully request that our elected officials act quickly.

Cathy Markle