BoCC approves medical marijuana ordinance


Staff Writer

Additional medical marijuana facilities will be allowed in Archuleta County — but not quite yet.

In a special meeting Tuesday afternoon that was light on public comment, the Board of County Commissioners passed Ordinance 11-2013 upon second reading. The ordinance will be effective following the expiration of the county’s current moratorium on July 18.

That ordinance, which will allow additional medical marijuana operations that meet ordinance and state regulations, was debated in depth during its first reading on June 18.

But, at the July 9 meeting, the sole public comment came from the county’s only legal dispensary owner, and was in regard to the distance from residences dispensaries will be allowed to operate.

“I think this is good lawmaking,” commissioner Michael Whiting said, calling the ordinance a compromise that saw no one commissioner get everything he wanted. “I’m proud of this one.”

Commissioner Steve Wadley, likewise, said he thought medical marijuana was one of the most challenging issues the current board has faced and that he believes the ordinance incorporates what’s best for the county.

“We’re in uncharted territory, here,” Wadley said.

Lucero, the most resistant of the board to allowing additional marijuana operations, stated that, while he is in favor of medical marijuana, he wished operations would be confined to the Cloman Industrial Park, though he recognized the ordinance had been “hashed out in public.”

Bill Delany, owner of the county’s only current medical marijuana facility, stated that he believes the ordinances buffer zone of 250 feet between medical marijuana operations and residences is not enough, adding he wouldn’t locate his business that close to homes (despite the fact that Delany’s business was once run out of a residential area).

The ordinance was adopted with a 2-1 vote of the board, with commissioner Clifford Lucero voting against the ordinance.

In general, the ordinance allows for properly licensed medical marijuana centers, medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing and optional premise-based cultivation operations that are run under identical ownership, in conjunction with and adjacent to centers.

Medical marijuana businesses will be allowed within commercial and industrial zones in unincorporated Archuleta County. The Town of Pagosa Springs does not allow the businesses.

Additionally, all medical marijuana businesses must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, day care facilities, churches or dedicated public parks. The businesses must also be at least 250 feet from residential- or Planned Unit Development-zoned areas, unless there is a highway between the area and the business (such as U.S. 160). All measurements are from the property line of the school, church, park, etc. to the nearest portion of the building in which the medical marijuana and related products are sold.

Too, signs for the businesses cannot include the words, “‘marijuana,’ ‘cannabis,’ or any other word, phrase or symbol commonly understood to refer to marijuana.”

Other provisions included in the ordinance cover security, license renewal, and that medical marijuana and related products cannot be used within 50 feet of the businesses.

But, before the ordinance takes effect on July 18, the commissioners are expected to consider fees for licenses and applications at their regular meeting next Tuesday, July 16.