Medical marijuana grow ops sent on paper chase by county
The fates of two medical marijuana cultivation facilities operating in unincorporated Garfield County may depend on the owners’ ability to provide documents showing they were in business prior to a June 2010 county moratorium.
County commissioners on Tuesday continued for a second time this month two medical marijuana business “local verification” hearings, both until March 11.
One is for a growing facility operated by Holistic Healthcare outside of New Castle, and the other for Alternative Medical Solutions’ growing operation on Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs.
If the owners are unable to provide documentation showing they were in business prior to June 21, 2010, they run the risk of not receiving the required county verification needed for their state of Colorado licensing.
Local verification hearings are now required by the state to determine if older medical marijuana businesses were already in existence before the state and local governments began drafting the various regulations that now govern the industry.
The 2010 date was the deadline for pre-existing businesses to have been in operation before the county moratorium was put in place.
A statewide moratorium on new businesses went into effect on July 1 of that same year, and wasn’t lifted until the new state regulation went into effect in July 2011.
Meanwhile, Garfield County voters decided in November 2010 to allow cultivation facilities in unincorporated area, but to prohibit retail sales centers, or dispensaries, and the manufacturing of marijuana-infused products.
The county moratorium was lifted in July 2012, when local land-use regulations governing all new cultivation facilities went into effect.
Pre-existing facilities are still being allowed to continue, even if they don’t comply with the regulations. But only if they can show they were in business before the county’s June 2010 deadline.
Holistic Healthcare operates out of a commercial building south of New Castle where two other growing operations are also located.
Commissioners determined that a common lease presented at a Feb. 4 meeting for the three businesses was not specific as to which unit in the building the Holistic Healthcare facility is located.
The growing operation supplies a dispensary in Eagle County, which under the new Garfield County land-use regulations would be prohibited. Those regulations require that Garfield County growing operations supply only dispensaries located in a Garfield County municipality.
Under state regulations, dispensaries are required to grow at least 70 percent of their own product. However, cultivation is allowed to occur off premises.
The two other New Castle cultivation facilities were verified, as was a second facility operated by Holistic Healthcare near Carbondale, which supplies a dispensary in Aspen.
Likewise, the Alternative Medical Solutions facility, which also supplies an Aspen dispensary, recently relocated to its new Highway 82 location.
That may also be a violation of the county’s new land-use regulations, unless it can be shown that the original business pre-dated the 2010 deadline.
A signed lease or utility records are typically required to prove a business was in operation before that time. Both cases will be taken up again at the regular commissioners’ meeting March 11 in Rifle.
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Former Carbondale trustee Katrina Byars said she wants to bring a voice of environmental sustainability to the commission, and believes her opponent has served long enough.