Kremmling bans medical marijuana dispensaries
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Kremmling became the second town in Grand County and one of the few in the state to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within its borders, after a unanimous vote of trustees Wednesday night.
“We can discuss it, but nobody can inhale,” Mayor Tom Clark joked as the board of trustees took up the issue.
At an earlier meeting, trustees had instructed Town Manager Ted Soltis to draft an ordinance banning the dispensaries.
Soltis said he and the town’s attorney modeled Kremmling’s ordinance after similar laws in Winter Park and Greeley, the only other towns in the state he knows to have adopted outright bans of medical marijuana dispensaries.
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Winter Park’s ordinance went into effect in February, Soltis said.
He said Kremmling’s legal counsel characterized the ordinance as “legally defensible” while acknowledging there is “some legal risk under the current state of the law.”
Colorado voters amended the Colorado Constitution in November 2000 to allow patients to grow, possess and consume marijuana if a licensed physician advises them that they might benefit medically from marijuana. They also must register with the state and obtain a medical marijuana card.
The amendment does not address dispensaries, which have proliferated across the state this year in the wake of the Obama administration announcing that it does not intend to enforce federal marijuana laws in cases of medical marijuana use in states where such use is legal.
“We’ve got to draw the line somewhere,” Trustee Jason Bock said Wednesday night, a sentiment echoed by other trustees.
Trustees Erik Woog and Isaac Schonlau were not present.
The ordinance, adopted Wednesday, will go into effect in 30 days. It says the Board of Trustees “finds it essential that the Town enact ordinances to prevent the secondary effects of medical marijuana dispensaries, which are deemed detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare …”
Increased crime is among the detrimental effects the ordinance cites.
The ordinance defines dispensaries as “the use of a property or structure, whether for profit or otherwise, to cultivate, sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise engage in the business of providing medical marijuana in any usable form and in any manner …”
Soltis said later that potential penalties include up to one year in jail and/or fines up to $1,000. Many of those cases would be tried in Kremmling Municipal Court, he said, though Police Chief Scott Spade said cases in which a suspect’s defense relies on a medical marijuana card would be referred to Grand County Court.
Even without the ordinance, it would theoretically be illegal to locate a medical marijuana dispensary in Kremmling under the town’s business license law, which requires businesses to comply with federal law.
Spade told trustees Wednesday night that medical marijuana card-holders are not targeted by the ordinance and that they will still be entitled under state law to possess up to the legal limit.
But, “we can still drag their butts into court?” asked Trustee Grant Burger III.
Spade said the card would be a defense for possession within legal limits. And, if the suspect was gowing plants, “I’d have to maintain them” until the case was settled, he said, or the town could face a lawsuit.
The amendment allows card-holders to grow up to six plants for personal medical use.
The Colorado Legislature is considering laws that would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. Many towns and counties, including Grand County, have proposed their own laws and enacted moratoriums on dispensaries pending legislative action.
“State law is in flux; federal law is still in flux,” Soltis told trustees just prior to their unanimous adoption of the ordinance.
Mayor Clark said officials with the Colorado Municipal League told him they expect many laws regulating dispensaries to be tested in court.
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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