Colorado: Fort Collins moves to shut down Medical Marijuana dispensaries

Fort Collins Colorado Dispensaries: Final daysMedical marijuana businesses are a step closer to officially disappearing from Fort Collins.

The City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to a set of ordinances that repeal elements in city code that allow for the licensing and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations.  The house-keeping ordinances were in reaction to a measure banning medical marijuana businesses that was approved by city voters in November. The ban is scheduled to go into effect Feb. 14.  But the status of medical marijuana in the city and how it may be distributed remains somewhat cloudy. The ordinances, which are scheduled for second reading on Feb. 21, may be amended to clarify where medical marijuana may be grown and in what quantities.  The proposed ordinances would limit growing marijuana to residential areas. Grows would no longer be allowed in select commercial and industrial zones.

Council member Ben Manvel said voters wanted to shut down marijuana businesses, but they might not have wanted to force grows into residential areas.

“This, of course, is not what I want in my neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a policy question. … … Do we want to do something which is driving the grows into the neighborhoods?”

After a long discussion, council members did not indicate whether they would be open to allowing grows in commercial areas. Changing zoning regulations to allow the practice would take three to six months, officials said.

Another issue yet to be resolved is how many plants may be grown in multifamily buildings.

State law allows a caregiver to assist up to five patients with medical marijuana. Each patient may have six plants.

Current city law limits caregivers to growing 12 plants in a single-family residence, regardless of how many patients live there. There’s no limit on how many plants may be grown in a unit of a multi-family facility.

Ken Correia, owner of Solace Meds, urged the council to allow already established grows to continue in commercial areas while limiting the number of plants that may be grown.

Correia said he was frustrated by the lack of direction from the Council. Correia said he wants to continue serving as many patients as the state allows, but he’s not sure how he can do that within city regulations.

“I’m disappointed,” he said in an interview. “They’ve gotten themselves into a legal pickle and they don’t know how to get out of it. And they didn’t answer my question.”

Some medical marijuana businesses have sued the city to overturn the ban. The owners claim the ban violates the Colorado Constitution.

A hearing on a request for a temporary restraining order on enforcing the ban is scheduled Thursday in Larimer District Court.

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