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Glenwood OKs Zoning Regs for Medical Pot Operations

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Glenwood Springs and Carbondale continue on a similar track with other municipalities across Colorado that are working to establish local rules under which medical marijuana businesses must operate.

Last week, Glenwood Springs City Council approved the first of what's anticipated to be two separate ordinances aimed at controlling the booming businesses, which have taken off in Colorado over the past couple of years.

The Glenwood Springs ordinance was approved on first reading by a 4-2 vote at the March 17 city council meeting. Final approval is expected next month.

The new ordinance addresses where and how medical marijuana businesses can operate in the city, including:

- Retail medical marijuana centers (dispensaries).

- Marijuana cultivation, both on a commercial scale to supply dispensaries and for personal use.

- Infused products manufacturing, creating goods that contain marijuana or marijuana extracts.

It allows dispensaries and infused products manufacturing in any of the city's commercial zone districts, as well as the River Industrial zone district, located along Devereux Road. Certain standards must be met related to security, noise and odor control, signage and other neighborhood impacts.

Commercial cultivation of medical marijuana would be allowed in the Devereux Road district as well, but nowhere else in the city.

Other provisions would require medical marijuana facilities to be at least 500 feet away from any public or private kindergarten through 12th grade school property.

That distance is farther than the 250 feet that had been recommended by the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission, but closer than the state's guideline of 1,000 feet, according to city planner A'Lissa Gerum.

Carbondale is currently looking at a 1,000-foot restriction, but has also considered settling on 500 feet.

In Glenwood Springs, medical marijuana businesses also could not locate any closer than 500 feet from one another, according to the new ordinance.

Glenwood Springs has seen the number of dispensaries shrink since last year, from as many as 10 previously to six currently.

Existing dispensaries that are out of compliance with the new ordinance would be allowed to continue to operate. But any ownership change, relocation or modification of the business would require them to comply with the new rules, according to city officials.

Individual, card-carrying medical marijuana patients who choose to grow in their own homes would be limited to no more than six plants on any residential property, the new ordinance also says.

"Both state law and the medical marijuana industry continue to develop and change," Gerum noted in her staff report for the March 17 meeting. "Given that the industry and regulations are still quite young, and that the drug is federally illegal, conditions may continue to change.

"While we're addressing these municipal code requirements to the best of our knowledge at this point, it may be necessary to revisit them for updates, due to changing conditions in the future," she said.

Next up for Glenwood Springs City Council to consider will be a licensing provision and associated fees for medical marijuana businesses. A moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs remains in effect through June.

'Grow your own' rules

The town of Carbondale, meanwhile, continues to wrestle with similar ordinances related to rules for patient and caregiver growing facilities in residential areas, as well as zoning for dispensaries and commercial growing operations.

At the Carbondale town board's March 15 meeting, a provision to limit in-home growing operations to no more than 12 plants per household was discussed.

However, trustees decided to eliminate language related to caregivers being allowed to grow in residential settings, and only allow certified medical marijuana patients to have grow operations in residential zones.

State law allows a personal caregiver to have up to five medical marijuana patients, whom they can assist in obtaining marijuana products.

"If people really have a need to grow it for their own medical use, they should be allowed to," Trustee John Foulkrod said.

If someone has to provide it for them, he said, "they can just go to the nearest dispensary."

Trustee Ed Cortez wanted to be careful not to prevent access to medical marijuana for those who may truly need it.

"My concern is for someone who is really ill, maybe terminally ill, who cannot physically grow a plant," Cortez said. "I think there are quite a few people who need this, and I want to make sure we're not making it more difficult for them to maintain their quality of life."

The town is also considering a provision to require tenants in rental units to obtain landlord approval before being allowed to grow medical marijuana in their homes.

The matter was continued until April 5. A separate ordinance establishing where and how dispensaries and commercial growing can occur is currently before the Carbondale Planning and Zoning Commission. A public hearing is scheduled for April 14.

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: postindependent.com
Author: John Stroud
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Website: Glenwood OKs zoning regs for medical pot operations
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