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Castle Rock Holding Public Forum on Marijuana Gardens Wednesday

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Do you support or oppose collective medical marijuana gardens in Castle Rock? Either way, the City Council wants to hear from you.

The council is holding a public hearing Wednesday to discuss a proposed six-month moratorium on collective gardens within the city limits. The council that night may take the first of two required votes on the moratorium.

Expecting a packed house, city officials have moved the council meeting to the Castle Rock Elementary School cafeteria.

Opponents of medical marijuana gardens already were circulating "Not in Our Town" emails Thursday afternoon, urging residents to turn out in opposition. The owner of The Healing Hand of God patient assistance center said he'll likely have medical marijuana patients attend as well. The clinic, which opened this month, has a doctor who examines patients to see if the qualify for medical marijuana cards.

"The more comfortable people are with what we want to do the better," Julian Robinson said. "But we also don't want to overwhelm people. We just want our side heard, too."

While much of a recent medical marijuana bill was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the section legalizing collective grows survived and will become law July 22. Without a moratorium or set of rules for such grows, the city wouldn't have any way to regulate them, Randolph said.

Robinson said he doesn't have a problem with the moratorium because he's not planning a collective garden in the city limits. In addition to his clinic, Robinson wants to create a co-op of growers. Rather than growing all their plants together, though, the co-op would record memberships and then allow members to share their plants and product, he said.

He's still researching some of the technicalities, but Robinson said he believes his plans are allowed both under state law and the proposed moratorium.

City Attorney Frank Randolph, though, said Friday that he believes the co-op plan is illegal, because it would be distributing marijuana.

As for collective medical marijuana gardens, the moratorium is needed to give the city time to develop the proper rules and regulations, Randolph said.

For example, would they be allowed next to a school? Or next to a halfway house? And would a fence or other security measure be required to keep out people without a medical marijuana card who may want to do some harvesting of their own?

"Under state law you can put a moratorium on perfectly legal activity for short periods of time while you prepare and think through some of those issues," Randolph said.

Mayor Paul Helenberg told him the moratorium would be a good idea, and thus the meeting and public hearing were scheduled, Randolph said. The city's proposal includes up to a $125 daily fine for violations of the moratorium, if it's imposed.

Wednesday's hearing starts at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Castle Rock Elementary School, 732 Huntington Ave. South.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: tdn.com
Author: Barbara LaBoe
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Copyright: The Daily News Online
Website: Castle Rock holding public forum on marijuana gardens Wednesday
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