County moves forward with marijuana rules
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A year and a half after Garfield County voters OK’d commercial medical marijuana growing in unincorporated parts of the county, officials are preparing a final set of rules to be considered later this spring.
The Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held a work session earlier this week to refine a draft set of land-use regulations for medical marijuana cultivation.
The rules would apply to “optional premises” cultivation, the growing operations serving medical marijuana products manufacturing and retail dispensaries in other locations.
Commissioners indicated that they would prefer that any commercial growing in the county be connected to retail and manufacturing businesses located in the county.
“The board was very interested in only producing and selling the product locally, and not allowing it to be exported outside the county,” Garfield County Building and Planning Director Fred Jarman said.
The county is not inclined to try to regulate smaller growing operations by medical marijuana patients and caregivers, he said. That is already handled under state regulations.
In November 2010, county voters were presented with three separate ballot questions related to county government control of medical marijuana facilities.
The questions were aimed at determining what types of commercial medical marijuana activity should be allowed in areas of the county outside of the six municipalities from Carbondale to Parachute.
Voters rejected retail medical marijuana dispensaries serving authorized patients, as well the manufacture of marijuana-infused products. However, voters narrowly approved growing operations.
Most of the county’s municipalities have adopted their own regulations for the various types of facilities. Others are still in the process of doing so.
In the meantime, both the state of Colorado and Garfield County have a moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities of any type through June of this year.
Garfield County’s draft medical marijuana cultivation regulations will go before the county Planning Commission for a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9.
The BOCC is tentatively scheduled to have a public hearing on the regulations at 1 p.m. on June 4. Both meetings will take place at the Garfield County Administration Building, 108 Eighth Street, Glenwood Springs.
The county regulations would limit commercial cultivation to the county’s existing commercial and industrial zone districts, Jarman said.
A limited impact review before the BOCC would be required, including notification of neighboring property owners. Applicants would be required to address a range of issues related to the growing operation, including water and sewer, electrical, odor control, visual impacts, access and signage.
In keeping with state law, growing operations would have to be at least 1,000 feet away from educational and child care facilities, group homes, churches, public parks and public buildings.
Garfield County had originally planned to consider its medical marijuana regulations in May of 2011, Jarman said.
However, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had indicated that medical marijuana operations, and even local government regulators, could be liable to prosecution.
Federal officials have since indicated that operations adhering to state and local regulations would not be targeted for prosecution.
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