Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jun 2010
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2010 Summit Daily News
Author: Robert Allen


Dispensary Owners May Resort To Front Range Warehouse

SUMMIT COUNTY - Local dispensaries could be trucking medical marijuana
from the Front Range by September as they struggle to comply with new
state laws.

Summit County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to continue a freeze on
medical pot-growing operations, meaning it will be a year before any
more start in unincorporated areas.

"It's completely ridiculous," said Jerry Olson, owner of Medical
Marijuana of the Rockies in Frisco. "They're not concerned about
Summit County businesses, jobs or landowners with vacant rental property."

Existing dispensaries will soon be required to produce 70 percent of
the marijuana they provide to patients, whether it's grown on-site, in
a nearby warehouse or another county.

Olson said his roughly 1,800-square-foot business couldn't accommodate
the warehouse space necessary for setting up a grow operation, and
he'd found unincorporated county sites offering a place well away from
neighborhoods. A soon-to-open Breckenridge dispensary owner spoke in
support of Olson as well.

The previous county moratorium on grow operations was set to expire in
late June, offering a window of about a week before a statewide,
year-long freeze on new operations July 1. Commissioner Thomas
Davidson cast the one dissenting vote on both medical marijuana issues
- - the moratorium and amendments to the town's development code.

"I wish we could have tried to jump through the hoops and helped out
these guys in their situation," he said after the meeting.

Commissioner Bob French said it was only the third time the board
didn't vote in agreement in the past six years.

"It gave us a great deal to think about," French said. "After the last
two to three hours, we've taken it very much to heart."

Pressure on a planning and legal staff already limited by budget cuts
was cited as a reason the dispensary owners' request couldn't be
accommodated on such short notice. Security was another concern.

"Clearly we were not prepared to deal really at all with the grow
operations," Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.

The county to date hasn't received any applications for permits for
such operations, according to county staff.

Davidson said he respects his fellow commissioners'

"There's no intent here to put somebody in a hard place," he

There are nearly 10 dispensaries in local towns, and Olson said
keeping grow operations local would mean more jobs and tax revenue
staying local.

"I shudder at the idea of having to use more petrochemicals to bring
stuff up here," he said, adding that Front Range operations would
require use of air conditioners as well.

Executive sessions transpire without public vote The grow-operation
issue brought an unexpected twist to Tuesday's meeting, causing two
recesses resulting in unannounced executive sessions for conference on
legal matters with county attorney Jeff Huntley.

State open records laws require executive sessions to be announced,
with legal basis explained and a vote before the session begins.
Huntley and Davidson both said a vote was taken to begin an executive
session - but it was made after commissioners and staff had called a
recess and left the public hearing room for a nearby office.

"I think we'll be more careful about making sure we follow due process
in the future," Davidson later said. "The reason we were in executive
session this afternoon was completely valid."

It wasn't revealed that the first executive session occurred until the
meeting was reconvened and then returned to a recess. The Summit Daily
asked what transpired during the first recess and French explained
there had been an executive session. No public vote was taken to go
into the second session, either.

Huntley said the commissioners received a "candid explanation of what
the law is" as well as potential ramifications.

Summit Daily attorney Steven Zansberg said in an e-mail that, because
there was no public announcement and no public vote prior to the
closed-door discussion in private, it was unquestionably an illegal
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