The Milliken Town Board’s approval of the town’s first retail marijuana dispensary has ruffled some school district feathers, but town officials say they’re not inclined to change their minds.
The Weld County Re-5J School District Board of Education on Wednesday passed a resolution opposing the dispensary location.
The proposed dispensary, Nature’s Herbs and Wellness, is planned for 3220 Center Drive in an industrial park on the east end of Milliken. It will be across the street and 391 feet from the Johnstown/Milliken Re-5J School District headquarters. The district board took issue with the Milliken town ordinances for medical and retail marijuana. The medical ordinance prohibits dispensaries within 1,000 feet of school buildings if they’re also being used for classroom instruction. The retail ordinance allows that.
The district’s administration building, however, houses the Roosevelt High School online program, which District Superintendent Marty Foster said brings a handful of students into the building every day.
The school board’s resolution asked the Milliken Town Board to revoke its approval of Nature’s Herbs and Wellness and rewrite the retail marijuana ordinance to also prohibit retail dispensaries near the district administration building. Woodcock said he’s disinclined to do either, stating Milliken’s ordinances are in line with state law.
“Personally, I am not reconsidering (the dispensary’s application),” Milliken Mayor Beau Woodcock said Friday. “I’m willing to work with them. Our board is willing to work with them. Are we willing to revoke a permit because they don’t want marijuana? No.”
Woodcock said he’d be happy to host a joint work session between the town board and school board. He added the town board didn’t know there were classes in the administration building and said the town would help the district relocate its online school if necessary.
Woodcock also pushed back on the district’s assertion in its resolution Nature’s Herbs and Wellness was approved “with no referral notification to, no request for input from” the district. The property on which the dispensary will be built has been posted since Dec. 8, Woodcock said, and the agenda for the meeting in which it was approved was posted ahead of time.
He also pointed out when students drive from Roosevelt High School to the administration building, they pass liquor stores and convenience stores that sell cigarettes.
“They can go into those,” Woodcock said. “They can’t go into a damn dispensary.”
John Rotherham, owner of Nature’s Herbs and Wellness, said his “worst-case scenario” would be having to find a new piece of property in Milliken. He said the dispensary’s building plans are drawn and civil engineers are looking the site over for its water, sewage and electrical needs. Rotherham hopes to start construction as soon as that’s done, though he doesn’t have a specific groundbreaking date. His original plans were to be open by the end of this year.
“I don’t want to step on any toes,” Rotherham said, “but I know we haven’t done anything wrong and the town hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Rotherham planned to make his Milliken shop a central hub for his other stores, through which he processes and packages all of his products. He also has stores in Garden City, the Denver Tech Center and Log Lane Village near Fort Morgan.
The subject of marijuana has been rather touchy in Milliken. Voters in 2015 rejected a measure 64 percent to 36 percent to allow retail shops.
In the latter part of 2017, however, town officials began mulling the possibility again and opted not to go to voters, eventually hosting a community meeting before voting to allow retail and medical marijuana and adopt ordinances related to those businesses. Towns that allowed retail shops for recreational marijuana were reaping the tax benefits since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012.