Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 2010
Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Fort Collins Coloradoan
Author: Trevor Hughes


Officials Hear Hours Of Testimony

Larimer County is moving toward banning medical marijuana dispensaries
in unincorporated areas after county leaders said they think such
businesses belong in cities.

The initial ban passed the Larimer County Commission on a 3-0 vote
Monday night and prompted one man to walk out yelling, "See you in

The ban must still be formalized at a later hearing, and it remained
unclear following the hearing whether it would affect dispensaries
that have already applied to open.

Two dispensaries have already won at least initial approval from some
level of county government, and their would-be owners on Monday night
said they have invested thousands of dollars trying to play by rules
the county and state keep changing.

"We've planned and based our business model on your regulations,"
would-be dispensary owner Erica Freeman said. "We've waited to open
our doors for local approval."

Added her husband, Brian: "If all of a sudden it's banned, where do we end up?"

Commission chairman Steve Johnson said he tried to figure out a way
that dispensaries - and the traffic, crime and other impacts he said
would come with them - could fit in rural areas.

"This is just about land use," Johnson said. "I just don't think we
can do it with the resources we have."

The decision came after more than three hours of testimony from the
public, including Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden. Commissioners
rejected a plan to put the decision to voters.

All three commissioners said they believe people have the right to use
medical marijuana as permitted by Colorado's Amendment 20.
Commissioner Lew Gaiter said he believes patients will be accommodated
by dispensaries in Fort Collins.

Fort Collins has crafted land-use rules for marijuana businesses,
including minimal distancing from a variety of places, including
schools, places of worship and residential neighborhoods. Grow
operations are limited to commercial and industrial zones.

The city also is developing a process for licensing businesses as
called for in a new state law. The city is waiting to see how state
rules for licensing marijuana businesses play out before deciding how
to "grandfather" in existing businesses.

Several speakers at Monday's hearing said they reject the idea that
marijuana has any medicinal value.

"Let's end the charade," said Wayde Krueger, who said he is an
anti-drug speaker in schools. "This is not medicine ... since when has
smoking anything been good for you?"

Krueger then told commissioners that his daughter, who died of cancer
last year, smoked marijuana to ease her pain, a decision he supported.

Brian DeBuse, who lives between Fort Collins and Loveland, said he
thinks that if marijuana has medicinal value, it should be treated
like a pharmaceutical.

"I don't care if they grow it in Mexico and ship it here and we buy it
at Walgreen's," he said. "I don't want to see it in kids' hands." 
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