Eagle wrestles with medical marijuana | VailDaily.com

Eagle wrestles with medical marijuana

EAGLE, Colorado –Municipalities across Colorado are having a hard time writing their rules for state-allowed medical marijuana dispensaries.

Eagle is no exception.

Last year, the Eagle Town Board approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries as a special use. Tuesday night, the group reacted to the first two formal dispensary permit applications.

Dave Manzanares, of Sweet Leaf Pioneer, and Barry Hasman, of The Pharm, Inc., both requested special use permits for dispensaries proposed roughly a block away from one another in the Eagle Commercial Park. Practicality is the reason for such proximity: The town’s ordinance states that dispensaries must be located 500 feet from schools, youth-oriented businesses and pediatrician’s offices. The eastern end of the commercial park is one of the few locales in Eagle that meets the requirement.

Manzanares got his permit even though town Trustee Kraige Kinney again voiced opposition to the establishment of any medical weed operations in Eagle.

“I don’t believe they have demonstrated a need in our community,” said Kinney. “I still believe medical marijuana facilities and this ordinance are both ripe for abuse.”

He urged the board to table the request until the end of the current Colorado Legislature session because state lawmakers have stated they will tighten up the medical marijuana loopholes this spring.

“I do believe this medicine brings relief for people, when they can actually get to it,” said Trustee Yuri Kostick.

The proposal from The Pharm, Inc. wasn’t as successful. The board tabled the permit discussion until the owners could come back with a growing area plan.

The chief difference between the two dispensaries is that Sweet Leaf Pioneer will not grow product on site. The Pharm, Inc. has stated that it will include a growing operation. Under law, medical marijuana patients can grow up to six plants for personal use. The Pharm, Inc. has proposed having patients assign their growing rights to the business.

The idea of having a weed-growing operation in town didn’t sit well with members of the board.

The Pharm, Inc. representatives said the reason for the growing operation was to ensure a quality product for patients. Additionally, they noted it would provide an additional service.

“This seems like more of a manufacturing model, which is not what’s considered in the ordinance at all,” said Mayor Ed Woodland.

Kostick suggested a regulation that would specify that any plants grown on site must be assigned to a specific patient and not distributed to any other patients. While that addressed one part of the problem, other board members argued that either a total plants or square footage needed to be limited. Still other members argued that two medical marijuana dispensaries in town represented one too many.

“It is unfortunately part of the ordinance situation that the first person satisfied the need,” said Woodland. “How many do we need? That’s the most persuasive argument against it in applying the criteria.”

“I think two is enough. They are different types of operations,” said Kostick.

While discussing the issue of marijuana-growing operations, Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell noted that he has already been approached by a business that is interested in operating a wholesale marijuana greenhouse that would supply other dispensaries. Town board members did not support such a plan.

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