Dillon undecided about pot dispensaries
August 10, 2009
DILLON – Taking a page from other Summit County towns, Dillon officials are examining how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries before one asks to set up shop.
Dillon officials are leaning toward limiting where such a business could open. The town will likely set a 90-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries at its next town council meeting while zoning regulations are drafted.
“It’s a free market,” said Mayor Barbara Davis. “I want to put as many caveats in as we can so we’re not backed in a corner.”
Devin Granbery, Dillon’s town manager, acknowledged at Tuesday’s work session that there was no clear consensus on how to move forward on the medical marijuana issue, so staff will continue to monitor other towns’ decisions, as well as applications – if they come in.
Granbery also said he wanted to meet with other town managers in the county to coordinate regulations to gain consistency.
Breckenridge and Frisco have already set moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries; Silverthorne officials will discuss their options next week.
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This flurry of discussions and code changes are coming on the heels of a business permit being approved for Medical Marijuana of the Rockies – it recently opened in Frisco’s Crossroads shopping center. Breckenridge is additionally facing a vote to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by adults over 21.
According to Dillon officials, both Dillon and Silverthorne have been approached by people wishing to open medical marijuana dispensaries.
A lot of concerns
All council members expressed concerns about having a medical marijuana dispensary within town limits at Tuesday’s work session – noting location, safety issues, the potential for abuse and regulation as key issues.
The Breckenridge Council doesn’t want dispensaries in the town’s core, and Dillon officials are leaning in that direction as well -though there was uncertainty about where a proper place could be for such a business. Mention of “light industrial zoning” was thrown around as a possibility.
“I’m not opposed,” Davis said. “But, I do want to limit where it is. … Not in our town center. I don’t want to have to react when it comes.”
Don Parsons, a councilman and doctor, encouraged the town to wait on making any decisions.
“We ought to be moving real slow on this. Unless there’s a demand from our residents, we shouldn’t do it,” Parsons said. “I think Breckenridge has taken this on. I think we ought to follow their progress and see what they come up with.”
Councilwoman Mary Forsyth said she had safety concerns about dispensaries, noting the potential for robberies.
And that’s not completely unfounded. Dispensary thefts have occurred in Boulder and California, where customers were robbed on their way out. There are also reports of illegal sales occurring outside the businesses.
Councilman Doug Roessel questioned the need for multiple dispensaries in the county, also pointing out that the dispensary in Frisco is only 5 miles away from Dillon.
This was because Joe Wray, Dillon’s chief of police, said he only knows of one person in Dillon who has a medical marijuana prescription.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as of June, Summit has 111 registered medical marijuana users, Park County has 82 and Eagle County has 69.
Lucinda Burns, a councilwoman, compared the influx of interested parties hoping to open dispensaries to the Starbucks phenomenon – too many stores and not enough clients.