Glenwood Springs considering dispensary moratorium | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs considering dispensary moratorium

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Glenwood City Council is considering a six-month moratorium restricting the opening of any new medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen proposed the moratorium that would restrict any new dispensaries from opening in town while the city, and the rest of the state, wait and see what happens with House Bill 1284 regarding medical marijuana regulations.

The bill received the first two approvals from the state Senate on May 5, and is expected to make its way to Gov. Bill Ritter’s desk for approval in the coming weeks.

Some provisions of the bill would require dispensaries to comply with statewide regulations, while still allowing local governments the authority to further regulate the industry.

Glenwood City Attorney Jan Shute mentioned at the May 6 meeting that the HB 1284 would put in place a one-year statewide moratorium restricting any new dispensaries to open after July 1, 2010. Dispensaries open before that date would be allowed to continue to operate under the new rules that are established under the bill, if it’s passed.

Mayor Christensen said that a six-month moratorium would give council adequate time to see what the final bill regulations include and will also provide more direction for council to determine what further regulations are needed specifically for Glenwood Springs.

“I think council has been cautious and not wanting to get in and get restrictive with people, but things seem to be wide open to this point,” Christensen said.

Dan Sullivan with Green Medical Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary in Glenwood Springs, suggested that council create an advisory council similar to what Carbondale did in March. Carbondale’s Board of Trustees appointed a 14-member Medical Marijuana Facilities Advisory Group to study issues raised by concerned citizens regarding location of dispensaries and associated grow operations. Sullivan said that he would like to see at least one dispensary owner on that council.

Sullivan said that he was not opposed to regulations but wanted industry representatives involved in the process.

“We look forward to having a structure in place and operating within the laws that make sense,” Sullivan said.

While several councilors agreed with Christensen on the moratorium, Councilman Russ Arensman has strong objections.

“I strongly disagree with the moratorium,” he said. “It only delays us from getting started on addressing the issue of what the regulations should be.”

Arensman said that he didn’t think it was appropriate to put a moratorium in place after the city has already allowed eight dispensaries to open up shop in town.

“That horse has left the barn,” he said. “I respect the idea behind [the moratorium], but you’ve just given the existing businesses exclusive licenses.”

Councilman Dave Sturges said that the moratorium is needed in order to give the council sufficient time to address the many issues such as local licensing, location and hours of operation, to name a few.

“A moratorium is appropriate,” he said. “It gives us time to address the issues.”

Council requested a draft ordinance to be discussed at the May 20 meeting, at which time a vote on the moratorium is possible.

jgardner@postindependent.com


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