Mar 022010
 
Authors: Sara Michael

City Council met before an overflowing chamber Tuesday night to discuss an ordinance outlining regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries and growers in Fort Collins.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) –– redefined by the council as medical marijuana businesses (MMBs) –– from operating within 1,000 feet of schools, churches and other MMBs. The ordinance would also force MMBs to restrict operating hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If the 1,000-foot limit is imposed, all but nine of the city’s 95 registered MMBs would be in violation.

The council presented a map displaying those few areas in Fort Collins that would remain available for MMBs. Aislinn Kottwitz of District 3 and Lisa Poppaw of District 2 defended the proposal, while Kelly Ohlson of District 5 and Ben Manvel of District 1 both argued that the areas outlined were too restrictive.

“We should come back and propose banning MMBs from Fort Collins entirely instead of trying to surreptitiously ban them by squeezing them out,” Ohlson said, sarcastically.

If passed, the ordinance would forbid residents operating dispensaries from their homes from renewing their licenses after two years and prohibit them from growing or keeping cannabis in their homes.

People supplying only to themselves or one other person would not be considered a dispensary, but would be limited to just one other customer and permitted only 12 plants, and six mature plants.

Dispensary owners and residents came out in numbers to speak their minds on the proposed regulations.

“I’d be on the streets without this new industry,” said CSU graduate Sam Leuschen, who works at a local dispensary.

“We need to slow down, take our time and really look at these issues,” he said. “You’re not telling Walgreens what time to close.”

“The risk to our families is just too great,” said Bob Powell, one of 35 other citizens who spoke at the event. Several parents and community members present echoed Powell’s sentiments.

Alan Donagon, whose house sits across from a home dispensary, complained about the inconvenience to neighborhoods.

“Who would want to buy our house with that across the street?” he said.

Many dispensary owners, employees and patients seemed to feel misunderstood.

“We aren’t nobodies,” dispensary operator Amanda Rose said. “We have degrees in horticulture. There are cultivation techniques, different strains … We know those things.”

The council will have their second reading of the ordinance at their March 16 meeting. This reading will finalize the regulations from MMBs in Fort Collins.

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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