Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Column: Cannabis Corner
Copyright: 2016 Boulder Weekly
Author: Paul Danish


On Nov. 6, 2012 the people of Colorado decisively voted to legalize 
recreational marijuana. Amendment 64 passed with 55.3 percent of the vote.

In Boulder County Amendment 64 received 66.4 percent of the vote. The 
margin in the City of Boulder was even higher.

But you would never know it by the cavalier way County and City 
elected leaders have chosen to "regulate" marijuana growers in the 
ensuing four years.

Start with Boulder County. Shortly after the passage of Amendment 64 
the Boulder County Commissioners voted to ban commercial marijuana 
production in the agricultural areas of Boulder County. The ban 
applied to both outdoor and indoor production.

The ban on indoor marijuana production included production in 
commercial greenhouses. The last was a doubling down on a previous 
prohibition: Boulder County has rejected the construction of new 
commercial greenhouses in its agricultural areas for years.

The rationale for the ban was that marijuana production was more like 
an industrial activity than an agricultural one - which is true if 
growers are forbidden from growing their crops either outdoors or in 

The result of this conveniently circular argument was that marijuana 
production in Boulder was ghettoized into warehouses.

One consequence of this is that marijuana producers have become 
voracious consumers of electricity - most of which is produced by 
burning coal or natural gas of course.

County government is given to over-regulating nearly everything, and 
the marijuana industry is no exception. Still, marijuana companies in 
the unincorporated areas count themselves lucky to be in the County, 
because compared to the City of Boulder's regulatory practices, doing 
business in Boulder County is like being in Galt's Gulch.

So imagine the consternation last week when the City of Boulder 
announced it was going to annex a clutch of warehouses in an enclave 
along 55th Street north of Arapahoe where 15 marijuana businesses are 

If annexed, the businesses will have to obtain new licenses from the 
City of Boulder, a process that could take months, and then comply 
with the City's considerably stricter (and pettier) regulations. 
Strictly speaking, they could be shut down the day they are annexed 
and not allowed to operate until they come into compliance.

How difficult might that be? Dan Anglin, President of Americanna, 
said he has identified 26 city regulations that could immediately him 
shut down if he's annexed - including for having the wrong color tile 
on the floor.

An assistant city attorney says the city will find a way to allow the 
businesses to function until they can obtain new licenses, but it is 
cheerfully prepared to proceed with the annexation without having one in place.

The businesses and property owners were told on Friday, Aug. 12 that 
the proposed annexation would be considered by the City's Planning 
Board on the following Thursday, so that the City Council could act 
on it by Sept. 6.

The City of Boulder routinely ties itself in knots with public 
process that moves at a glacial pace. So why the rush?

Because the annexation has something to do with Boulder's plan to 
create a municipal electric utility, but it isn't clear what.

However, annexing the properties would clearly have the effect of 
broadening the putative utility's revenue base by bringing in some of 
the largest electric consumers in the Boulder Valley, which might 
make a scheme whose economics have always looked dodgy somewhat more viable.

I can't imagine non-marijuana businesses being treated this shabbily.

Both the City of Boulder and Boulder County elected officials talk a 
good game about "sustainability," but the way they treat the 
marijuana industry makes a mockery of their claims.

The way to create a more "sustainable" marijuana industry is for 
Boulder County to repeal its irrational ban on marijuana production 
in the county's rural areas and its equally irrational ban on 
commercial greenhouses and encourage producers to use the sun for 
most of their lighting needs.

As for the City's rush to annex the marijuana businesses, if the only 
way it can make its municipalization numbers work is by a forced 
annexation of people who have been forced to be profligate 
electricity consumers, maybe it needs to look at the propriety and 
morality of the entire exercise.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom