Grand County considers medical marijuana regulations |

Grand County considers medical marijuana regulations

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado

Grand County is proposing regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries.

A rough draft of the law puts dispensaries in certain zones with strict rules about distances from child-care centers, schools, churches, correctional facilities, halfway houses, residential dwellings, and other dispensaries.

Due to be presented for the first time to public officials this Wednesday, the draft regulations state that dispensaries need at least a 1,000-foot buffer from designated buildings and are allowable in the Business and Tourist zones of the county where drug stores and liquor stores already are allowed, which includes Scenic Byway corridors.

Of the 817 properties zoned business or tourist throughout the county, 50 properties would be in compliance with the setback provisions, according to a planning memo.

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder formed guidelines last year about how the federal government might ease prosecution of persons using marijuana for medical purposes in states that allow it, Grand County officials had dispensaries restricted, buying them a chance to work out how to regulate them.

The first moratorium on pot dispensaries in the county was set on Sept. 22, 2009, and was reinstated on Dec. 24, 2009 – that most recent moratorium expires March 16.

Winter Park has banned dispensaries and Kremmling is leaning that way. Kremmling also adopted a business license requirement that applicants “must be in compliance with federal law.”

Meanwhile, the towns of Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Fraser have imposed moratoriums.

Because of the “unique nature of a medical marijuana dispensary,” the county planning department suggests applications for dispensaries go through the county’s special use permit process on an annual basis, which allows for more open public review.

The county arrived at its draft law by reviewing laws and tips that have been drafted by other counties, towns, advocacy and opposition groups, the office of the Colorado attorney general, and by studying news information and other website resources – even the pro-marijuana magazine High Times, said Director of Planning Kris Manguso.

Grand County’s draft law may be most similar to Eagle County’s, she said, but ultimately the law is customized for Grand County.

Some provisions in Grand County’s draft law on pot dispensaries:

• Prohibits dispensaries and cultivation as a home occupation, except for medical marijuana patients who are allowed by state law to grow six plants, three of which can be flowering and able to produce.

• Allows cultivation in dispensaries if applicants can prove proper ventilation and water use. The draft law allows cultivation on the rationale that unlawful growing operations might be reduced in the county as well as illegal importation of marijuana.

• Mandates applicants have a valid sales tax license.

• Outlines that applicants would have to sign a statement with the understanding that medical marijuana dispensary operators may still be subject to prosecution under federal law and that the county provides no legal protection.

• Lists among other requirements that dispensaries have proper security and locked disposal.

• States the “consumption or inhalation of marijuana on or within the premises of a medical marijuana dispensary be prohibited.” Dispensaries also can’t double as liquor stores or bars.

• Regulates signage, saying words “marijuana,” “cannabis” or other words, phrases or symbols that refer to marijuana must have the word “medical” immediately preceding.

• Mandates that any owner with more than 10 percent investment in the business and all their employees undergo a background check. No permit will be issued to any applicant whose criminal history reflects a prior felony conviction, the draft law states.

• Suggests hours of operation be limited to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days per week.

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