Medical marijuana dispensaries downvalley? |

Medical marijuana dispensaries downvalley?

Kathy Heicher
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado – Downvalley towns are taking a distinctly different approach to requests for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Last month, the Eagle Town Board voted for a three-month moratorium on business licenses for the dispensaries. The town board will use that time to decide whether it wants to allow that type of business in town; and if so, how those dispensaries would be regulated.

Gypsum however, is just saying no, pointing out that while Colorado law does allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, federal laws do not.

Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll notes that all business license holders in the town are required to sign an affidavit stating that their business complies with all state and federal law.

“We will just uphold our standard of giving a business license … it’s not any more completed than that. They can’t have one (marijuana dispensary) because it violates federal law,” says Shroll.

Both towns have had a couple of inquiries from people interested in opening up medical marijuana dispensaries.

One man, a longtime valley local, has a business license application pending in Eagle, which prompted the moratorium. He asked that his name not be used while the license is pending.

The applicant says he has been considering such a business for a few years, but now the timing is right. Describing himself as an “entrepreneur,” the man says his construction/handyman business has been hit by the recession, and he’s looking for a new income source.

He’s lined up a potential shop space in the commercial district, and is encouraged by the success of medical marijuana dispensaries on the Front Range. He believes it could be a profitable business, and a sales tax generator for Eagle.

“I do think there is a need here in Eagle,” he says.

Just recently, requests for dispensaries have cropped up in the valley’s towns, and in the county. The state law that allows the use of medical marijuana does not address the dispensaries. Subsequently, local governments are scrambling to create some new rules.

“I don’t want to cram it down anybody’s throat. I hope it opens in Eagle, and helps here,” he adds.

Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland says the recently enacted moratorium will allow the town leaders time to figure out whether they want to allow those types of businesses; and if so, to establish a regulation structure.

“The simple fact is, people don’t have a right to come and get a license for a business that is going to sell medical marijuana,” said Woodland.

The town is looking at the kind of rules that govern liquor license holders. Liquor licenses are a quasi-judicial matter, with the town board acting as the liquor licensing authority. Before a liquor license is issued, the needs of the community are considered, as are the character of the applicant, and the location of the business in regards to community facilities such as schools.

Woodland suspects the town board vote on the medical marijuana dispensary issues will be close.

“I see a tie-breaker (vote) coming … we just don’t know yet whether we are going to have these kinds of businesses in Eagle,” says the mayor.

Shroll says medical marijuana dispensaries are a hot topic for municipalities throughout Colorado.

“There’s lots of communities struggling with Ïwhat to do, and how to do it,” he notes.

Gypsum officials looked into the issues, such as the lack of state regulation for licensing dispensaries, and lack of procedures for dealing with complaints. There is some question about whether medical marijuana can be taxed.

“We looked at it, and decided if there are that many issues, we will just take the high road,” he says. “If you need it (medical marijuana), that’s your gig. You can go get it, just not here.”

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