Assistant County Attorney Kathryn Sellars briefed the council Monday night on the provisions of the recently passed state regulations on medical marijuana and told them their options.
Sellars said with the passage of House Bill 1284 last week, municipalities can ban medical marijuana dispensaries altogether, approve the three types of outlined in the bill with city-added provisions, or do nothing and let the state law go into effect.
The three types allowed by the state are medical marijuana centers, primary caregivers, or product manufacturers, where marijuana is infused in things like brownies, cookies or oil.
But manufacturers must be connected with one of the other two types of dispensaries, Sellars said, and can only sell 30 percent of the product they don’t use. The rest must be used in production.
Municipalities an also ban dispensaries outright, she said, but they cannot ban primary care providers, who work from home, with no employees, and are limited to growing six plants each for a maximum of five patients.
“So they can grow 30 plants in their home?” asked councilmember Gary Hansen.
“Yes,” Sellars replied.
Hansen suggested making a motion to immediately ban dispensaries, but city manager Patrick Rondinelli said staff would need to do research and compose a resolution.
The city can pass a resolution either by a majority vote of the city council or they can put the question of dispensaries to voters, Sellars said.
Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to sign the bill soon, making it legal and possible for the city to either approve the three types of licenses provided for in the bill or ban them.
Sellars said it’s a good idea for the city to wait until the bill is signed before taking action, but since the city already has a moratorium, the council has plenty of time to adopt an ordinance before the July 1, 2011 deadline set by the state. If no ordinance is adopted to either allow or ban medical marijuana dispensaries, the state law will go into effect, she added.
The state is requiring dispensaries to put up a $5,000 surety bond, she said, and some municipalities are thinking of adding their own licensing fees, with some planning to also charge dispensaries an additional $5,000.
Ridgway has already introduced a resolution to allow dispensaries, Sellars said, which was introduced on first reading last week.
But the Ridgway Town Council is also waiting for the governor to sign the bill, said outgoing Ridgway Town Manager Greg Clifton, adding that the resolution is “a moving target” that may change, as the details of the state regulations are refined.
Ridgway will probably not charge dispensaries a licensing fee or surety bond, he said, and does not plan to ban dispensaries.
“I don’t want to speak for the policymakers, but I’ve heard enough to get that the idea here is not to ban them, but to respect the constitutional amendment in place,” he said. “This is one of those areas where I think it was beneficial to wait.”
Both Ridgway and Ouray have year-long moratoriums in place, which gives them plenty time, but Ridgway is likely to adopt something sooner than later, Clifton said.
“It’s been introduced and is on the next agenda, but council needs a little more time to consider it,” Clifton said. “At the same time, we have no desire to say no dispensaries.”
Ouray also has plenty of time, Sellars said, and council decided to wait for staff reports before taking any action.
But after months of discussion on medical marijuana, the topic likely won’t appear on the city council agenda for quite a while, said Ouray Mayor Bob Risch after the meeting, and Monday nights meeting ends the discussion for the near future.
“It probably won’t come up again for about a year,” he said. “We need a break.”