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Home Health Video clips from Larimer County Commissioners and Planning Commission 1/4/10 regarding Medical Marijuana
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Video clips from Larimer County Commissioners and Planning Commission 1/4/10 regarding Medical Marijuana

On 1/4/2010 the Larimer county Commisioners passed a new zoning amendment in regards to medical cannabis dispensaries and grow operations. Here is video from the meeting broken down into smaller clips for easier navigation.  The full video was found the counties web page here.  Also below the video clips are the minutes from the meeting provided by the county.

NOTE:  You can read the finalized full text of the amendment passed by clicking here.

This discussion pertains to zoning in any land that is in unincorporated Larimer County.  Zoning in cities such as Fort Collins is not covered by the passed amendment.

This first clips is about 40 minutes long. This is the initial reading of the proposed zoning amendment dealing with medical cannabis in Larimer County.

After the reading the meeting was opened up for public comment. First up to speak was Cindy Hayden, MMJ patient and dispensary advocate from Loveland.

This video clip has two people speaking. Anthony Krepel owner of Merry Jane Wellness Center, Loveland, CO says he opened legally then county ordered closed. Tony Katzmakis sees residential setbacks as a problem in mixed-use areas.

The counties sheriff, Jim Alderden, discusses:
* personal grows of up to 6 plants should not be limited due to state law
* Dispensaries & growers need min. functional security systems
* large grow rooms need inspections to include elec, fire & hazmat

The next clip is a continuation of public commenting. Dr. Nancy Smith from the Center for Family Care in Fort Collins proposed maximizing distance from schools due to youth peer pressure. Wes Melander, a Larimer county resident, is concerned that proposed changes would prohibit caregivers in county & agreed about small growers w/ Sheriff Alderden but thinks home business exemption should allow up to 5 patients. John Clifton of Estes Park, sees no harm in unobtrusively providing for small (5-6) group of patients. Robert Walsh of Fort Collins, says large growers could be a problem, but small growers should be allowed. Travis Cutbirth with Medicinal Gardens in Fort Collins, zoning changes as proposed may violate state constitution with limitations on home based growing. Also that 20 mile limit not necessary since patients need CO state ID and MMJ license. Travis also thinks closing on Sunday not necessary. Chris Ralph
of the Wellness Center in Fort Collins thinks zoning requirement of public signage for growers will create security issues. Chris also suggested limiting sign content as possible solutions to the child peer pressure issues. Shaun Dougherty of Fort Collins thinks that security is not a zoning matter. Tony Katzmakis who owns property in tourist zoning off E. Mulberry emphasized need for electrical safety requirements.

Larimer County Planning commission debates and votes to recommend the MMJ zoning amendment to the county commissioners.

Commissioners Johnson and Donnelly debate and pass an amendment in regards to the land use code amendments regarding Medical Marijuana. There debate is broken into two videos  Motion carried 2-0.:

Below are the minutes from the meeting found on the Larimer county web site:

JOINT PUBLIC HEARING

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS & PLANNING COMMISSION

The Board of County Commissioners reconvened at 6:30 p.m. with Matt Lafferty and Michael Whitley, Principal Planners. Chair Johnson presided and Commissioner Donnelly was present. Also present were Planning Commission Members:  Thomas Benton, Mina Cox, Gerald Hart, Jana Hess, Nancy Wallace, and Karen Weitkunat; Staff members present included:  Frank Lancaster, County Manager; Sheriff Jim Alderden; Stacey Baumgarn, Facilities and Information Technology Department; Jeannine Haag and William Ressue, County Attorney’s Office; and Melissa Lohry, Deputy Clerk.

Planning Commission Chair Wallace opened the hearing and asked for public comment on the Land Use Code not related to medical marijuana. No one from the audience addressed the Board regarding these topics.

1.         LAND USE CODE AMENDMENTS REGARDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA, FILE #09-CA0104: This is a request to review proposed changes to the Larimer County Land Use Code regarding medical marijuana. Currently, the code does not have land use classifications for medical marijuana cultivation, processing, or dispensing and those operations are not specifically addressed by the 2006 International Building Code. Concerns about the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana include proximity to day cares and schools, the use, storage and disposal of chemicals, and the evaluation of the appropriate zoning districts and review procedures for the various land uses. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office and municipal law enforcement agencies have voiced anxiety about the secondary effects of medical marijuana operations.

In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution, which allows patients who have received a medical marijuana registry card issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment the right to engage in the lawful use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Placement on the registry requires a physician recommendation (not a prescription) for treatment of a number of medical conditions including, but not limited to, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, and persistent muscle spasms.  According to the Department of Public Health, severe pain is a reported condition for 90% of all registrants and muscle spasms are the second-most reported condition at 29% (patients can declare more than one condition).

Placement on the registry allows a patient to possess two ounces of marijuana or up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering at any one time. A patient may choose to transfer that “allowance” to a designated care-giver who “has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient who has a debilitating medical condition.” A patient may only designate one primary care-giver and there is no registry of care-givers. Beyond the definition of a primary care-giver, there are no regulations related to care-giver criteria and there is no limit to the number of patients a care-giver can manage.

Only patients and care-givers can cultivate and/or dispense medical marijuana and only patients are allowed to use medical marijuana. The Constitution references patients, physicians, and primary care-givers but makes no reference to dispensaries and provides no guidance regarding land use regulations for the cultivation, processing, or sale of medical marijuana.

The recent proliferation in medical marijuana dispensaries statewide is the result of a number of changes both at the state and federal levels.

In 2004, the Department of Public Health and Environment created an administrative guideline that a primary care-giver could care for only five registered patients in total. In 2007 a Denver District Judge overturned this limitation because of concerns regarding the process by which the guideline had been adopted, including the fact that there were no public hearings regarding the limitation.

In July of 2009, the Department of Public Health and Environment expanded the definition of primary care-giver to include those whose sole contact with the patient was the provision of medical marijuana. The expanded definition has been subject to court action with no decisive conclusion to date.

In October of 2009, a new federal policy was adopted that stated although the manufacture, distribution, possession, and use of marijuana is prohibited by federal law, federal law enforcement agencies should not seek to prosecute marijuana cases in which the defendant is in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.  Colorado is one of fourteen states that allows for the use of medical marijuana.

With no limit to the number of patients for which a care-giver may provide, a low threshold for being considered to be a primary care-giver, and removal of the threat of federal prosecution, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado has expanded in recent months as has the number of registered patients. The most recent statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, from August 31, 2009, state that there were 1,296 medical marijuana patients registered in Larimer County which is 9% of the total number of registered patients in Colorado.

Counties and municipalities throughout the state have had to determine how to regulate medical marijuana as it potentially affects land use within the county. Some jurisdictions have enacted bans, some jurisdictions have fit medical marijuana uses into existing regulations (treating dispensaries as a retail use for example), and some jurisdictions have created new land use regulations specific to medical marijuana. Several jurisdictions, including Fort Collins and Loveland, have enacted, or are contemplating enacting, moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The private growing and use of medical marijuana by individual patients is not a land use concern as long as the number of plants grown and their use complies with Department of Health regulations; however, the growing, processing, and dispensing of medical marijuana on a commercial scale requires land use regulations.  To date, Planning and Building staff have not approved any new uses related to medical marijuana in unincorporated Larimer County, although there could be active operations that are unknown or that have not received land use approval.  Inquiries have been received seeking to establish a cultivation operation, a combined cultivation and processing operation, and two potential dispensary sites in unincorporated Larimer County but none of those inquiries have resulted in formal land use requests.

On December 7, 2009, the Board of County Commissioners approved a 7-month moratorium on permits or licenses related to the operation of businesses that cultivate, process, or dispense medical marijuana and the establishment of any business, occupation, or operation relating to those activities. The purpose of the moratorium is to allow Larimer County time to adopt Land Use Code amendments for those uses.

The moratorium covers all of unincorporated Larimer County including unincorporated property within the Estes Valley Planning Area. The Community Development Department of the Town of Estes Park reviews land use planning and zoning applications for the Estes Valley through an intergovernmental agreement with Larimer County. If the proposed Land Use Code amendments are approved, Planning staff recommends that the Board of County Commissioners retain the moratorium in the Estes Valley Planning Area but revoke the moratorium for the remainder of unincorporated Larimer County.

The proposed Land Use Code amendments define “Medical Marijuana Dispensary” as “the use of any property or structure to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise provide medical marijuana in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.” The proposed amendments also define “Medical Marijuana Grow Facility/Operation” as “the use of any property or structure where marijuana plants are grown to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise be provided in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.”

The code amendments would allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Medical Marijuana Grow Facility/Operations through the Special Review process in the C-Commercial and I- Industrial zoning districts and would establish standards for those uses.  The Code amendments would also modify the definition of a home occupation to exclude medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana grow facilities/operations from being operated as a home occupation.

The proposed amendments are as follows:

A.        In Sections 0.1 (Definitions) and 4.3.10.B (Home occupation), amend the definition of home occupation as follows:

Home occupation. A business use conducted as a customary, incidental, and accessory use in the resident’s dwelling unit, attached garage or detached building, including office work, the making of art or crafts, trade uses, the providing of personal or professional services, and similar activities, and including retail sales of products produced on the premises and products clearly incidental, secondary and ancillary to the home occupation. Uses specifically excluded from home occupations include vehicle repair or similar activities, medical marijuana dispensaries, and medical marijuana grow facilities/operations.

B.        In Sections 0.1, add definitions for the following:

Medical marijuana dispensary. The use of any property or structure to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise provide medical marijuana in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.

Medical marijuana grow facility/operation . The use of any property or structure where marijuana plants are grown to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise be provided in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.

C.        Amend the C – Commercial (Section 4.1.18) and I – Industrial (Section 4.1.19) zoning districts to allow a medical marijuana dispensary and medical marijuana grow facility/operation by Special Review (S). List these uses under the “Commercial” category and renumber the remainder of the section:

12.       Medical marijuana dispensary (S) See section 4.3

13.       Medical marijuana grow facility/operation (S) See section 4.3

D.        Amend the zoning table inset in Section 4.1 to include the following in the C and I zoning districts:

Category Use Zoning Dist. C & I
Commercial Medical Marijuana Dispensary S
Commercial Medical Marijuana Grow Facility/Operation S

E.         Add the following to Section 4.3.3, Commercial Uses, and renumber the remainder of the section:

F. Medical marijuana dispensary. The use of any property or structure to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise provide medical marijuana in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Must Comply with the Following Standards:

1.         Medical marijuana dispensaries shall not be located within 500-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility.

a.         The distance referred to in this section is to be computed by direct measure from the nearest property line of the land used for the purposes itemized in paragraph 1 above to the nearest portion of the building in which the medical marijuana is to be dispensed.

2.         Medical marijuana dispensaries shall comply with any and all applicable state statutes and regulations, including but not limited to any licensing and reporting requirements.

3.         No medical marijuana dispensary shall cause or add to an undue concentration of such dispensaries and/or medical marijuana growing facilities in any area within unincorporated Larimer County.

4.         Medical marijuana dispensaries shall have a fixed physical location and shall not operate a mobile dispensary. Reasonable delivery services to registered patients consistent with any conditions of approval are excluded from this restriction.

5.         Medical marijuana dispensaries may only operate between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

6.         Medical Marijuana dispensaries shall not permit smoking or consumption of medical marijuana on their premises.

7.         Medical marijuana dispensaries shall implement appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing medical marijuana and the theft of medical marijuana, to include at minimum, security cameras, locks, and safes.

8.         No medical marijuana dispensaries shall be located within 20-miles of a Colorado State border.

Note:

Any medical marijuana dispensary in existence and in operation within the unincorporated territory of Larimer County prior to (date of adoption) which did not obtain special exception approval for that use from the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners is an illegal use.  Such uses must obtain Special Review zoning approval in order to be a legal conforming use in Larimer County.

Approval by the county of a Special Review application for a medical marijuana dispensary is in no way a finding that such operations are consistent with or allowed by any other laws or regulations other than Larimer County land use regulations. Any operator of a medical marijuana dispensary is responsible for complying with any other legal requirements and the consequences of any non-compliance.  Approval of a medical marijuana dispensary through the Larimer County Special Review process is not a defense to any state or federal criminal charges.

G. Medical marijuana grow facility/operation . The use of any property or structure where marijuana plants are grown to sell, distribute, transmit, give, dispense, or otherwise be provided in accordance with Section 14, Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution.

Medical Marijuana Grow Facilities/Operations Must Comply with the Following Standards:

1.         Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall not be located within 500-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility.

a.         The distance referred to in this section is to be computed by direct measure from the nearest property line of the land used for the purposes itemized in paragraph 1 above to the nearest portion of the building in which the medical marijuana is to be dispensed or grown.

2.         Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall comply with any and all applicable state statutes and regulations, including but not limited to any licensing and reporting requirements.

3.         No medical marijuana grow facility/operation shall cause or add to an undue concentration of such medical marijuana growing facilities/operations and/or medical marijuana dispensaries in any area within unincorporated Larimer County.

4.         Medical marijuana grow facilities/operation shall have a fixed physical location and shall not operate as a mobile growing facility.

5.         Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall not permit smoking or consumption of medical marijuana on their premises.

6.         Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall implement appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing medical marijuana and the theft of medical marijuana, to include at a minimum, security cameras, locks, and safes.

7.         No medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall be located within 20-miles of a Colorado State border.

Note:

Any medical marijuana grow facility/operation in existence and in operation within the unincorporated territory of Larimer County prior to (date of adoption) which did not obtain special exception approval for that use from the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners is an illegal use.  Such uses must obtain Special Review zoning approval in order to be a legal conforming use in Larimer County.

Approval by the county of a Special Review application for a medical marijuana grow operation/facility is in no way a finding that such operations are consistent with or allowed by any other laws or regulations other than Larimer County land use regulations. Any operator of a medical marijuana grow facility/operation is responsible for complying with any other legal requirements and the consequences of any non-compliance. Approval of a medical marijuana grow facility/operation through the Larimer County Special Review process is not a defense to any state or federal criminal charges.

Mr. Whitley presented the proposed amendments as written above and Ms. Haag explained to both commissions that the amendments were based on a bill set to go before state authorities during the upcoming legislative session.

Mr. Morgan asked staff why the proposed amendments did not mirror the requirements and restrictions in place for liquor licenses.  Mr. Ressue stated that the proposed state bill will probably include licensing guidelines, not under the authority of the county.

Commissioner Donnelly asked why staff had proposed limiting the establishment of a dispensary or grow facility within 20-miles of the Colorado State border.  Mr. Whitley stated the restriction was included to mirror proposed state regulations, seemingly to prevent trafficking of a controlled substance.

Mr. Hart asked staff what municipalities within the county were doing to address this issue.  Mr. Whitley stated that all municipalities located within Larimer County have placed moratoriums on both medical marijuana grow facilities and dispensaries and are currently reviewing similar codes and restrictions.  Mr. Hart stated the county should not consider allowing dispensaries within its jurisdiction as patients’ needs will be adequately addressed by operations in other municipalities.

There was discussion between both commissions and staff regarding the restriction of operations within 20-miles of the state border and whether operations would be allowed in the PD-Public Development zoning area.

Planning Commission Chair Wallace opened the hearing to public comment.

Cindy Hayden addressed the Board and explained that her son opened a medical marijuana dispensary in unincorporated Larimer County, near Loveland, in an area zoned C-Commercial.  Ms. Hayden said her son completed all of the necessary applications for the business and made it very clear that the business would be a dispensary; however, he received a cease and desist order from Larimer County.  Ms. Hayden stated she did not feel this was fair.

Anthony Krepel, owner of Mary Jane’s Wellness Center, addressed the Board and reiterated what Ms. Hayden’s statements.

Commissioner Johnson thanked Ms. Hayden and Mr. Krepel for trying to run a legal business.

Tony Katsmakis addressed the Board and requested they remove the restriction of dispensary and grow facility locations within 500-feet of a residence.  Mr. Katsmakis stated that it is unfair to disallow dispensaries or grow facilities near residences because individuals could possibly reside in I-Industrial and C-Commercial zoning areas.

Sheriff Alderden addressed the Board with concerns that some of the proposed regulations are not adequately defined. He noted that the definitions of both a grow facility/operation and dispensary may unintentionally include primary-care-givers, which are allowed and defined within Amendment 20. Sheriff Alderden also expressed concern that the proposed security requirements are not strict enough.

Chris Ralph also expressed concerns about security, specifically the requirement for public notification.  Mr. Ralph stated that if a primary-care-giver were required to notify surrounding land owners, as required for all special reviews, the safety of the patient, grower, and marijuana plants would be compromised.

Dr. Nancy Smith and Luke Weaver requested the proposed amendments be modified to include increased distances from dispensaries or grow facilities and schools. Both stated that increased exposure to medical marijuana operations could lead to increased temptations and/or illegal use of marijuana.

Wes Melander, John Clifton, Kirk Pederson, and Travis Cutbirth all addressed the Board with concerns about impeding the rights of primary-care-givers. Many stated that they currently care for friends or family members who use medical marijuana but are unable to cultivate their plants. If the amendments are approved in their current form, primary-care-givers would not be allowed to cultivate plants in their residences for use or consumption by registered patients.

Albert Walsh expressed concern that the proposed amendments would restrict grow facilities to be large-scale commercial operations, which would create environmental hazards due to large amounts of chemical waste.

Sean Dougherty addressed the Board and questioned the county’s ability to regulate security requirements via the land use code.

Many of the above individuals also expressed displeasure with the proposed closure of dispensaries on Sunday; arguing that if liquor stores are allowed to sell liquor on Sundays, dispensaries should be allowed to sell marijuana.

Planning Commission Chair Wallace closed public comment and much discussion ensued between the Planning Commission, and staff regarding zoning, primary-care-givers, and whether all of the proposed regulations were within county jurisdiction.

Ms. Haag stated that because the growth and distribution of medical marijuana are so different from other county authorized land uses, both require unique standards and restrictions.  Ms. Haag also cautioned both commissions to weigh the contradiction of federal and state laws regarding marijuana consumption.

Mr. Hart reiterated his stance that the county should not consider allowing dispensaries within its jurisdiction as patients’ needs will be adequately met by operations in other municipalities.

M O T I O N

Planning Commissioner Morgan moved that the Larimer County Planning Commission recommend approval of the Land Use Code Amendments Regarding Medical Marijuana, file #09-CA0104, subject the following modifications:

1.         Section 4.3.3.F.5 shall be amended to read, “Medical marijuana dispensaries will have limited hours of operation.”

2.         Sections 4.3.3.F.1 shall be amended to read, “Medical marijuana dispensaries shall not be located within a minimum of 1,000-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility.”

3.         Sections 4.3.3.G.1 shall be amended to read, “Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall not be located within a minimum of 1000-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility.”

Planning Commissioner Hess seconded the motion.

Motion carried 6-2, Planning Commissioners Hart and Cox dissenting.

Commissioner Donnelly thanked staff, the Planning Commission, and the public for their work and input. He requested removal of Sections 4.3.3.F.8 and 4.3.3.G.7, establishing 20-foot buffers between medical marijuana dispensaries or medical marijuana grow facilities/operations and the Colorado State border. Commissioner Donnelly also requested Sections 4.3.3.F.1 and 4.3.3.G.1 be amended to require a distance no less than 1000-feet between medical marijuana dispensaries or medical marijuana grow facilities/operations and facilities frequented by children; while requiring a distance no less than 500-feet from all other facilities.

Chair Pro-Tem Johnson thanked staff and the Planning Commission for their hard work and dedication. He cautioned staff and the public that these amendments are a good starting point; however, they are not a final product and, in the future, will probably require multiple revisions. He further emphasized the need to make balanced regulations to allow the use of medical marijuana to continue and thanked potential medical marijuana business owners for striving to conduct their business in a legal manner.

M O T I O N

Commissioner Donnelly moved that the Board of County Commissioners approve the proposed Land Use Code amendments, file #09-CA0104, to retain the moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana grow facilities/operations in the Estes Valley Planning Area and revoke the moratorium for the remainder of unincorporated Larimer County, subject to the following modifications:

1.         R emove Sections 4.3.3.F.8 and 4.3.3.G.7.

2.         Sections 4.3.3.F.1 shall be amended to read, “Medical marijuana dispensaries shall not be located within a minimum of 1000-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility. Medical marijuana dispensaries shall also not be located within 500-feet of any existing residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; or any public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public.”

3.         Sections 4.3.3.G.1 shall be amended to read, “Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall not be located within a minimum of 1000-feet of any existing: public or private school; principal campus of a college, university or seminary; public park or playground; or licensed child care facility. Medical marijuana grow facilities/operations shall also not be located within 500-feet of any existing: residence; church or religious institution; drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility; or any public community center or publicly owned or maintained building open for use by the general public.”

Motion carried 2-0.

There being no further business, the hearing adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

 
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