Glenwood Springs considers dispensary moratorium
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A six-month moratorium on the opening of any new medical marijuana dispensaries is under consideration in Glenwood Springs.
Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen proposed the moratorium; it would prevent 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 legislation 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.
Christensen said a six-month moratorium would give the Glenwood City Council adequate time to see what the final bill regulations include and also provide more direction for the council in determining 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 the council create an advisory council similar to Carbondale’s. There, a 14-member Medical Marijuana Facilities Advisory Group has been appointed 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 wants 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 council members support the moratorium, Councilman Russ Arensman does not.
“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 he doesn’t think it’s appropriate to put a moratorium in place after the city has already allowed eight dispensaries to open up shop.
“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 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.”
The council requested a draft ordinance to be discussed at its May 20 meeting, at which time a vote on the moratorium is possible.