High Valley Farms aims to expand outside for marijuana waste work
As a year-round grower of cannabis, High Valley Farms is yielding enough of the crop that it’s asking for the county’s permission to create a place to grind its waste.
On Wednesday, Pitkin County commissioners will get their first look at an application that asks that the facility, located off Highway 82 near the Holland Hills subdivision, get a fenced-in area next to the greenhouse. The outdoor area would be used to chip and shred marijuana plant branches, leaves, roots and stalks.
Mike Woods, chief operating officer of Silverpeak Apothecary, the retail and medical operation that sells High Valley Farms’ product, said the fenced-in area is being requested for safety reasons and to adhere to state regulations.
A memo to the county from Silverpeak CEO Jordan Lewis, who also owns High Valley Farms, says as much.
“Our request comes from our concern for public safety and compliance with the state’s marijuana statutes/regulations,” Lewis wrote. “The state regs require us to grind marijuana waste and incorporate the ground waste with other non-consumable, solid wastes so that the resulting mixture is unusable and unrecognizable.”
“It’s just so tight inside,” Woods said of the 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, which began growing marijuana last year. The property also includes 5,000 square feet of office space. State regulations require that such the outdoor space be adjacent to the current facility.
County planners have indicated their only concern is noise generated by the gas-powered equipment that would chip and shred the waste.
Woods said the machine, which can only be used outside, would be used about two hours at a time sometime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s about as loud as a lawn mower, he said.
In a related development, county commissioners will eye approval of an emergency ordinance regarding fee schedules for medical and recreational marijuana license applications.
The move is being made in reaction to Silverpeak’s request for the fenced-in area at High Valley Farms. The request, known in government-speak as a “modification to premises license to an existing retail and medical marijuana license,” would typically cost the applicant $3,000. A memo from county attorney John Ely, however, says “such an application does not involve the significant staff time of a new application, making the current required fee excessive.”
Ely is asking commissioners to approve an ordinance that would drop the fee to $150 for modification of a premises license.
“This fee is consistent with that charged for a modification to a Pitkin County liquor license,” Ely wrote.