Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jun 2011
Source: Aspen Times, The  (CO)
Copyright: 2011 Aspen Times
Author: Janet Urquhart, The Aspen Times


ASPEN -- Limiting the cultivation of medical marijuana in Pitkin
County to a level that essentially fulfills local needs is among the
proposed regulations that will get an initial review this week.

Local governments in Colorado have until July 1 to establish their own
regulations and licensing procedures for the medical marijuana
industry, or to prohibit such facilities altogether; in jurisdictions
that take no action, state standards will apply.

In Pitkin County, the drafting of regulations has been a work in
progress since last September, when county commissioners advised
staffers to take a light-handed approach to governing the industry and
to talk with neighborhood caucuses about what they'd like to see. The
resulting proposals will go to the county's Planning and Zoning
Commission on Tuesday and county commissioners on Wednesday.

The proposed rules reflect the outcome of meetings with neighborhood
caucuses around the county, notes Lance Clarke, the county's deputy
director of community development.

For example, medical marijuana businesses would be prohibited in the
areas overseen by the Fryingpan and Snowmass/Capitol Creek caucuses,
and dispensaries would not be allowed on Redstone Boulevard.

Citizens also said they didn't want the county to be a growing site
that serves dispensaries elsewhere, Clarke said, so the proposed
regulations don't allow the total number of licensed "grow sites" to
exceed the total number of dispensaries in the county -- an area that
includes unincorporated Pitkin County and its municipalities.

Currently, Clarke said, there are seven dispensaries in the county
(most of them are in Aspen) and six grow sites, so present
circumstances meet the proposed limitation.

"The idea is having a balance between the two," Clarke explained. "We
should try to be sustainable for our own needs -- the needs of Pitkin
County. We should have a balance between dispensaries and grow sites
and not become a grow site for Denver and Boulder."

State law requires dispensaries to grow at least 70 percent of the
product they sell.

In unincorporated Pitkin County, dispensaries would be allowed only at
the Airport Business Center, although one has been permitted in
Holland Hills, taking advantage of a pre-existing medical use in a
commercial building. The manufacture of "marijuana-infused" products
- -- cookies and brownies and such -- would also be allowed at the ABC,
but not in buildings that contain residences.

Grow sites would be limited to the rural areas of the county,
including residential areas zoned for a density that's no greater than
a house per 10 acres. Growing facilities wouldn't be allowed in such
subdivisions as Mountain Valley, Red Mountain and Meadowood, Clarke

Cultivation facilities would not be allowed in multi-family or
multi-tenant buildings or on lots smaller than 2 acres, and must be
within an enclosed building, according to the proposals.

Medicinal pot businesses would not be allowed within 500 feet of a
church, school, park, playground, child-care facility, community
center or drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility, or within 200 feet of
a residence on another parcel, except in the county's B-2 zone, which
exists only at the ABC.

The wildcard in the county's proposed regulations relates to
home-occupation businesses and "primary caregivers."

The manufacture of edibles is allowed in home kitchens, though state
law prohibits the use of a kitchen used in the production of marijuana
products to also be used for general household cooking.

And, the county's proposed regs regarding marijuana businesses in
general prohibit off-site impacts such as light and odor.

The smell of baking cookies wafting out someone's window is OK; the
smell of pot-laced cookies is not.

"If your cookies smell like marijuana, you're going to be in
violation," Clarke said.

What the state defines as a primary caregiver would also be allowed to
operate out of a residence under the county's home-occupation
standards. A caregiver may have up to six registered patients and no
more than five plants per patient. They are not licensed, but the
caregiver and his or her patients are registered with the state,
Clarke said.

In other words, a primary caregiver who meets certain home-occupation
standards could operate pretty much anywhere in the unincorporated
county, except in multi-family, multi-tenant and mixed-use buildings.

Except for primary caregivers, the county rules propose a business
license for dispensaries, grow operations and infused-product
manufacturers, though county doesn't currently issue any business
licenses. The medical marijuana businesses would be charged $2,000
initially and $500 for the annual license renewal.

"I proposed a license because the state is very much anticipating
that's what local governments are going to do," Clarke said. "The
other reason is for the fee, because this is taking a huge amount of
staff time." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.