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Commissioners Postpone Medical Marijuana Decision

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Colo: Following an all-day meeting Thursday, El Paso County commissioners voted 3-2 to postpone a decision on whether to ask voters if medical marijuana facilities should be banned in unincorporated El Paso County.

But the all-Republican board made it clear at the end of an eight-hour session that some action will be taken at its Aug. 26 meeting to further regulate medical marijuana businesses.

That action may include a referral of the question to the ballot, a decision by the board itself, as well as the possibility of “grandfathering in” roughly 21 medical marijuana businesses in operation before a state-imposed moratorium went into effect on July 1.

“It’s a big issue for our community,” said Commissioner Amy Lathen, who represents eastern El Paso County and favors a ballot question. “It may be that the people in this county will say ‘yes’ to this. If that’s what they say, then God bless them, that’s what we’ll do.”

If the measure does go on the ballot and voters approve a ban, medical marijuana still will be legal for patients and caregivers because of a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado residents in 2000.

During public comment, several speakers implored the commission to put the question to voters, but most warned that a ban would simply drive the marijuana businesses underground where officials would have less control — and less revenue — from various licensing fees.

“There will be thousands more care-givers opening up operations in basements,” said Lono Ho’ Ala.”None will be inspected, none will be accounted for, and none will collect taxes.”

Julie Sveinsson, whose husband runs a business called Cannabicare, said most of the county’s marijuana operations are located in business parks. “Why not keep it in these business parks and away from the public and tourists?” she asked.

Commissioner Wayne Williams, a lawyer, pointed out that Amendment 20, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes, did not mention dispensaries or manufacturers or grow operations.

“Who should make that decision? Should it be the people of the community or the five people on this board? In another couple of months, you’re going to select a new board. It seems like a much more stable position if folks in the community make that decision.”

Late in the meeting, Commissioner Jim Bensberg brought up the question of grandfathering in the 20 or so existing marijuana businesses in the county, which led to postponing the board's decision.

Colorado Springs attorney Charles Houghton, who said he represents clients who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their medical marijuana establishments, responded positively to the idea.

“I think it’s a fair thing to do in light of what people have invested,” he said.

NewsHawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: gazette.com
Copyright: 2010 Freedom Communications
Contact: Contact Us : Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
Website: Commissioners postpone medical marijuana decision | decision, marijuana, medical - Public Affairs - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
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