Pubdate: Wed, 15 Feb 2012 Source: Summit Daily News (CO) Copyright: 2012 Summit Daily News Contact: http://apps.summitdaily.com/forms/letter/index.php Website: http://www.summitdaily.com/home.php Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/587 Author: Caddie Nath, Summit Daily News DEADLINE LOOMS FOR SUMMIT COUNTY ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATION Facing Loss of Local Control in July, County at Last to Tackle Medical Marijuana BRECKENRIDGE - Summit County Government ended a more than two-year hiatus from medical marijuana discussions Tuesday, diving into dense pool of questions around regulating the sale and cultivation of the herb in unincorporated areas. County staff said there are currently few viable places for a medical marijuana retail location to open its doors in unincorporated Summit County and suggested the possibility of only allowing grow operations, a policy that would be unique in Colorado if adopted. Summit County Commissioners said they needed time to think over the regulation options - which also deal with complex issues around zoning, taxing and business requirements - and to talk with the medical marijuana community and law enforcement. "I'm not sure I can take all this in and give you direction today," Commissioner Thomas Davidson told staff at a work session Tuesday. "I need some time to think about this." Deadline looming The county has punted on medical marijuana since 2009, keeping a sweeping moratorium in place while waiting for the state to come out with a final policy framework, officials said. But now the county government is on a deadline: Local jurisdictions that do not implement regulations by July 1 will lose the local option altogether and will default to the state's policies. The federal government recently cracked down on medical marijuana centers operating within 1,000 feet of a school, forcing them to close their doors or relocate by the end of this month. County officials said they didn't want to permit centers close to schools or residential areas where they might be shut down by the state or federal government, and Keystone and Copper Mountain will not allow medical marijuana centers in buildings they own - eliminating most options for retail locations in unincorporated Summit County. But medical marijuana retailers, who are required to cultivate 70 percent of their product themselves, have expressed an interest in setting up grow operations in the county. "We have a huge need for additional (grow) space," Jerry Olson, who owns Medical Marijuana of the Rocky Mountains in Frisco, told commissioners Tuesday. "I think these are all wonderful ideas. There're a lot of farms and outbuildings all over the county that wouldn't even be recognizable as a grow operation." Two local medical marijuana centers currently operate grow centers on the Front Range, while most of the others cultivate on-site. County officials are considering a policy allowing only grow operations in unincorporated areas, but because the plan would ban retail businesses, the county wouldn't receive sales tax revenue from the medical marijuana industry. In Frisco, Silverthorne and Breckenridge, that income is used to offset administration costs associated with the industry. Commissioners were also concerned about the aesthetics of warehouses housing grow operations in the Lower Blue River area and the possibility of attracting outside grow centers that would ship their products to other parts of the state. Commissioners are expected to continue to discuss regulations among themselves and with local planning commissions in the coming weeks. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.