Fraser officials begin considering marijuana regs
Fraser, CO Colorado
FRASER – The Board of Trustees here has outlined a schedule for adopting new regulations that will guide the development of medical marijuana facilities inside town limits.
Voters decided last November that the town should not prohibit such operations within the town limits. Town attorney Rod McGowan clarified that, despite the vote, the board still has the option to prohibit any or all of the various facilities allowed by the state: medical marijuana centers, grow operations or infused product manufacturers.
The town board has until July 1, 2011, when the state’s moratorium runs out, to adopt its new regulations.
With that deadline looming, Town Manager Jeff Durbin gave the trustees “homework” after the Jan. 19 meeting. The board has been asked to review a list of seven questions about establishing a local licensing authority.
The state has given local governments the ability to decide who should serve as the local licensing authority. That authority could be the Board of Trustees, the town clerk, a specially appointed hearing officer or even the municipal judge, Durbin said.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each, he explained. Having an administrative person handle applications takes the politics out of the process but places the onus of the decision on one staff member. Putting the decision in the hands of a judge gives the responsibility to somebody who is legally minded, but could complicate matters if the applicant later violates any of the town’s regulations.
The board must also decide whether new medical marijuana licenses should be issued through a public hearing process or an administrative review process. Both systems would include a right to request a public hearing or appeal to a higher authority.
The process for notifying neighbors of pending applications will be another key component of the town’s regulations.
The work ahead has been simplified to a large extent by a 100-page draft document released by the state licensing authority a few weeks ago, outlining rules and regulations for allowing medical marijuana centers, Durbin said: “Now we don’t have to write those 100 pages and that is a good thing.”
A rule-making hearing Jan. 27 will determine whether the state adopts those 100 pages of regulation. If adopted, which seems likely Durbin said, “It will provide us good ground to work on.”
Michael Byrd, a Fraser Valley resident who works with several dispensaries on the Front Range, told the board last week that the world of medical marijuana is “still the Wild West.” There are no rules against pesticides and no best practices from the state’s perspective, he said.
The state’s proposed regulations would fix that, providing detail on everything from sanitizing requirements when working with infused products to a list of chemicals and fertilizers that are prohibited in grow operations.
Durbin added that the proposed requirements for licensing medical marijuana facilities are more straightforward than the “needs and desires” outlined in the state’s liquor license process: “Either they qualify per the state’s requirements or they don’t,” he said.
The local government’s approval of an application would only “give people the right to dance with the state,” he said. Ultimate approval would come from the state’s licensing authority.
The board of trustees will meet again at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2. The goal, Durbin said, is for the board to give staff some direction in February. Staff will then draft language for the planning commission to consider at its March 23 meeting.
The planning commission will aim to return its recommendation to the board in April, and the board will likely consider adoption of new medical marijuana regulations sometime in May or June, Durbin said.
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