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County Still Working on Medical Marijuana Regs

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The extension of the statewide moratorium on the opening of new medical marijuana centers has given Park County officials extra time to come up with rules concerning the burgeoning industry.

Under the new state rules and a law that went into effect on July 1, dispensaries in Colorado will be required to comply with a number of guidelines, including how the businesses keep inventory, how they keep records, and the imposition of mandatory 24-hour video security surveillance cameras. The state also extended a moratorium on the issuing of permits for medical marijuana centers until July 1, 2012.

Park County Attorney Lee Phillips called the state's rules "comprehensive." But there is still work that the county would need to do regarding medical marijuana centers, he said.

"There are several things the county needs to address," he said. "One of them is zoning. The other thing is local regulations."

He said there are five medical marijuana centers operating in Park County. Three of them are in Alma, two are in unincorporated Park County.

On Feb. 14, the town of Fairplay approved a ban of all medical marijuana centers within the town limits.

Phillips said it was possible the commissioners would continue to wait to see what laws are enacted at the state level before drafting laws or regulations of their own.

He said it was possible that the county could draft a more stringent set of guidelines, but those guidelines couldn't be less restrictive than those of the state.

"Any operator has to comply with the state requirements as a baseline," he said.

Resistance from advocacy groups

Some medical marijuana advocates are fighting against the new laws and regulations implemented on July 1.

On June 30, a complaint was filed in Denver District Court asking that large portions of the laws passed in the last two years be overturned because they restrict patient access to medicine and violate patient privacy rights guaranteed by the Colorado Constitution.

According to a June 30 press release from the Cannabis Therapy Institute, the lawsuit was filed by the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project. It is a group representing patients, caregivers and physicians.

"The goal of the lawsuit is to restore Constitutional protection that patients and caregivers enjoyed prior to the passage of these new laws," said the press release.

The Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project was founded by Kathleen Chippi, a medical marijuana center owner. Its mission is to protect the rights of patients in Colorado using medical marijuana.

"The constitution allows patients to choose their caregiver. The state cannot deny patients their Constitutional rights by forcing them to purchase medicine at a retail marijuana store and give up all their confidentiality rights," she said in the press release.

County's tax

Park County voters approved a 4 percent sales tax on medical marijuana and related items in November 2010, and the county has generated about $10,818 in sales tax between the time the tax went into effect on Jan. 1 and the end of April, said Park County Budget and Finance Director Kathy Boyce.

Boyce said that accounts for about $280,000 in Park County sales in the first 120 days of 2011.

Divided by five centers, that's an average of $56,000 per center for four months, which works out to $224,000 per center on an annualized basis on average.

Boyce said the amount of tax collected is a little bit lower than it should be based on the $280,000 in sales figure because the county gave centers a bit of a tax break during the first month of the year because it didn't have its paperwork in order.

Boyce estimated that the county could collect about $28,000 in sales tax from the sale of medical marijuana in 2011.

Boyce said of the five medical marijuana centers in Park County, only four of them are really operating.

The money generated through the tax is being placed in the general fund, Boyce said. It hasn't been allocated for anything, but a number of departments are interested in the money.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: theflume.com
Author: Mike Potter
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Fairplay Flume
Website: County still working on medical marijuana regs
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