Three area medical marijuana centers may be closed |

Three area medical marijuana centers may be closed

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Three medical marijuana dispensaries are in danger of closure by the state on procedural grounds, according to a letter sent by state regulators to the Garfield County attorney’s office.

The Garfield Board of County Commissioners, informed of the situation on Monday, voted to invite the owners of the dispensaries to tell their side of the story and determine what, if anything, the county can or should do about the matter.

An Oct. 19 letter from Dan Hartman, director of the state’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, stated that the division “cannot confirm or deny” whether three specific dispensaries were in business before Garfield County imposed its June 24, 2010, moratorium on all new medical marijuana businesses.

The dispensaries, or “medical marijuana centers,” are The Green House and the CMD Care-House LLC, both within the town of Carbondale, and Western Slope Caregivers LLC in Rifle.

All three were included in a list sent to the state of dispensaries that claimed to have been established before the moratorium was imposed, according to the letter from Hartman.

In an election in November 2010, county voters banned dispensaries and manufacturing facilities related to the medical marijuana business, but permitted the establishment of “grow operations” in areas outside the county’s six municipalities.

State law now requires that dispensaries must control the growing facilities for 70 percent or more of the product they sell in order to be licensed by the state Department of Revenue.

A number of cultivation operations are known to be growing marijuana around the county, each operation providing marijuana to one or more centers.

Assistant County Attorney Carey Gagnon informed the state earlier this year that her office had identified a half-dozen dispensaries that had applied for county permits, even though no formal permitting process has ever been written into the county’s codes.

County staff members are working on a set of medical marijuana codes, but they are not expected to be submitted to the BOCC for review until the end of the moratorium period, which will be in July 2012.

Gagnon told the Post Independent that, despite the lack of a formal process, a number of centers had submitted “some kind of documents that could constitute an application,” but the three named by the state had not.

The state has given the three named dispensaries until Nov. 17 to either prove their claims to have existed prior to the moratorium, or face closure.

The Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will hold a hearing on Nov. 21 to listen to the owners of the threatened dispensaries and to determine the county’s role in the matter.

Gagnon told the BOCC that she believed that the state would hold off on any enforcement action until after the county’s hearing.

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