County moving towards repeal of marijuana moratorium
Grand County’s moratorium on marijuana licenses and permits will be on the chopping block next week when county commissioners hold a public hearing on a revised marijuana ordinance.
County officials have scheduled a public hearing on the issue for 11 a.m. Jan. 9 to consider a comprehensive marijuana ordinance that will govern the county’s oversight of recreational and medicinal marijuana businesses. The ordinance includes a dozen pages and 18 separate sections covering topics ranging from fines and penalties assessed for violation of the ordinance to procedures required for the scheduling of public hearings for new licenses.
Most notably the ordinance includes provisions repealing the county’s moratorium on marijuana licenses.
The repeal of the county’s moratorium has not yet been approved, and the draft language contained within the proposed ordinance could be changed at the discretion of the board. Though, as of Thursday, officials from the county attorney’s office confirmed that the current draft of the ordinance does not contemplate extending the moratorium beyond the end of February.
The county first established the moratorium on new marijuana licenses and permits in mid-December 2016. The moratorium, passed on Dec. 13 of that year, initially restricted the issuances of new licenses and permits through Jan. 1, 2018. On Dec. 12, 2017, the board adopted an extension of that moratorium, pushing the final date back until Feb. 28.
The moratorium restricted the filing, processing, acceptance and issuance of new applications, licenses and permits for marijuana businesses in unincorporated Grand County. The ordinance also put a hold on new applications for construction or alteration of buildings or structures related to marijuana businesses.
David Michel, general counsel for Igadi in Tabernash, one of the businesses affected by the moratorium, expressed his support for the new revised marijuana ordinance.
“I’m fine with the new regulations,” he said, but went on to express his concerns over the county’s fee structure for marijuana businesses.
“To simply change the location of a door, add a security camera, or make any other change to our facility – on top of the building application fees everybody else pays, we have to pay $2,000 to do so when the state handles most of the work on the approval. If Igadi wanted to bring in investors it would have to pay, to the county, $21,000 just to bring in investment; to do things that would add jobs and more tax revenue for the county,” Michel said. “The current fee structure prevents us from operating like a normal business, like any other business in Grand County, and it needs to be amended.”
Michel noted that, because of the county’s fee structure, Igadi has expanded operations outside of Grand County, rather than increasing its business operations within the county.
“It [the fee structure] needs to be proportionate to the actual work that the county does in reviewing these applications, not something where the county is merely grabbing fees from a business because it can,” he explained. “That is not serving the public interest and is not the type of government I would expect knowing the fine commissioners we have in place.”
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