Medical marijuana faces mile-high zoning


Posted Tue, Mar 1, 2011


WEED CONTROL: Denver Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell reads the proposed ground rules for medical marijuana licensing in Denver.


On Feb 14, a public hearing was held on a new bill that may force medical marijuana business owners out of business, due to new zoning restrictions.

Proposed bill, CB10-1003, adopts local licensing procedures and requirements for medical marijuana centers, medical marijuana-infused product manufacturers, and optional premise cultivation licenses.

“The bill in front of council tonight is a reflection of a choice being made by the city and county of Denver affirmatively to participate in medical marijuana licensing,” said Denver Assistant City Attorney  David Broadwell during the opening staff report.

City Bill 10-1003 effectively outlines the procedures for procuring a license, first at the city level, followed by the state level. Colorado House Bill 10-1284 creates a

authority that will grant licenses for cultivation, distribution and the sale of medical marijuana, but still allows cities and counties to prohibit the retail sale, cultivation, and distribution of medical marijuana. Together, these two bills together allow medical marijuana dispensaries to legally operate within the city of Denver. The primary focus of CB10-1003, however, has to do with location issues and where the licenses will be allowed in Denver. The three types of licenses, including care center licenses, manufacturer licenses, and cultivator licenses, each have their own zoning conformity and location restrictions.

While CB10-1003 sets a regulation for new medical marijuana care centers, cultivators, and manufacturers, existing establishments who submitted tax information before Dec. 15, 2009, whose locales do not conform to the new bill regulations will be grandfathered into the new regulations and allowed to continue operating in their existing locations.

Of the three proposed amendments to CB10-1003, the first amendment proposed City Councilman Doug Linkhart, would extend the public hearing and licensing cycle timelines for medical marijuana care centers from two years to four years, giving citizens more time to judge whether or not any given care center has been a detriment to their community and giving care centers more time to stabilize their business. Amendment two prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries from locating in retail areas embedded in residential neighborhoods. The third amendment refines definition of legal locations of non-conforming centers of manufacturing operations. While the second and third amendments were passed, a vote on the first proposed amendment resulted in a 7-6 vote against the amendment.

Twenty-eight speakers were in attendance to voice their opinions and concerns on the new regulations. Chief among the concerns of these speakers were the public hearings versus legally operating care centers and the public release of grow operation locations for fear of crime and vandalism.           

“I think much of this bill is simply implementing the state changes, and I think that was necessary.  The rest of the bill though, is addressing a problem in one area of town by implementing a solution that covers all areas of town,” said Linkhart. “I am concerned about the broad brush that we are taking with the bill. We are putting 51 businesses at risk of losing their business and I think we need to be very careful in doing that.”

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One Response to “Medical marijuana faces mile-high zoning”

  1. Corey Ward Says:

    The whole MMJ issue is interesting because the policies are always changing. I believe one day they will establish a syastem that effectively regulates MMJ without overbroad laws. For now, though, it seems like some of these shops will unfairly be put out of business. CW


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