County barred pot stores in Grand |

County barred pot stores in Grand

Tonya Bina

Despite voters’ Nov. 2, 2010, decision to allow medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated Grand County, Grand County commissioners have voted against them.

In a unanimous decision last week, county commissioners voted to not adopt a law allowing the cultivation, manufacturing and sale of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-infused products, and warehouses used to store medical marijuana, overturning voters’ decision to allow them.

The reason, according to Grand County Attorney Jack DiCola, is “the law’s changed.”

An April 2012 Colorado Court of Appeals decision found that a valid marijuana card or state authorization to operate a dispensary is “no defense” to a charge of possession of marijuana under federal law.

“The state constitution and federal constitution are in conflict,” DiCola said. Despite the vote of the people, the attorney “does not believe that Grand County can allow medical marijuana operations as it is a violation of federal law,” states a June 12 memo from the county planning and zoning department to commissioners.

“Further, the board of county commissioners takes an oath of when elected to office affirming they will support the Constitution of the United States,” the memo continues. “As medical marijuana remains a federal crime, it is the opinion of the county attorney that they cannot legally allow for medical marijuana facilities in unincorporated Grand County.”

The commissioners’ decision does not affect the practices of caretakers – people who supply medical marijuana to a limited number of patients under state law. The county has no jurisdiction to regulate caretaking operations “because medical marijuana is a matter of statewide concern,” DiCola said.

The county has been under a moratorium on medical-marijuana operations since Sept. 2009 to buy time for appropriate regulations with which to govern medical marijuana centers, operations and the sale of medical marijuana-infused products.

A statewide two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensary applications is set to expire July 1. According to Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, there are about 4,000 pending applications in the state.

Although there have been “inquiries,” there has not been any pending applications for a dispensary or related business in unincorporated Grand County, according to Grand County Planning Director Kris Manguso.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603