Carbondale imposes medical pot moratorium |

Carbondale imposes medical pot moratorium

CARBONDALE, Colorado – New medical marijuana establishments will be prohibited here through the end of 2011, or at least until the town formally adopts local rules and regulations controlling the industry.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency ordinance putting the moratorium in effect until Dec. 31, 2011.

The local measure effectively extends for another six months what’s now a statewide moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities imposed earlier this year in the form of HB 1284. The legislation required existing facilities to apply for state licensing, and no new operations are allowed to apply until July of next year when a range of new state regulations go into effect.

Carbondale’s moratorium buys some more time, as the town drafts its own local zoning regulations and licensing procedures related to medical marijuana centers, grow operations and manufacturing of infused medical marijuana products.

“This gives us until December of next year to do what we need to do locally,” said special attorney Sherry Caloia, who is advising the town on the matter. “I don’t think it’s going to take that long, but it does give us the extra buffer of time to consider these matters.”

Meanwhile, the town has begun the formal process to consider separate zoning ordinances regulating commercial medical marijuana centers and growing operations, as well as controlling patient and caregiver grow operations in residential areas.

The zoning matters will first be referred to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission soon after the first of the year.

A third ordinance under consideration by the town, which will come before the Board of Trustees around the same time, would establish local licensing fees, which would be in addition to state licensing requirements.

Some members of the public who commented on the moratorium ordinance questioned the need for such action, given that the state’s moratorium will continue for the next six and a half months.

“I don’t see the emergency here,” said local attorney Spencer Schiffer. “There’s not imminent threat to health, safety and welfare. I just don’t see the moratorium being justified in any way.”

The owners of a Glenwood Springs medical marijuana center also questioned whether manufacturing of infused products should be included in the moratorium.

“Right now, all of the infused products coming into the valley are from the Front Range,” said Cynthia Harpst, co-owner of 823 Grand in Glenwood with Dan Enright. “I’d rather see those jobs and those tax dollars generated locally.”

The town of Carbondale recently issued an opinion that any introduction of infused products after the state moratorium went into effect this summer are illegal. However, some legal experts around the state have questioned that stance.

The local moratorium takes care of that gray area as far as the town is concerned, Caloia said.

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