City Council tells dispensaries how to become legitimate

       City Council gave final approval June 8 to an ordinance defining pre-application provisions for people who have been running businesses that grow and/or sell medical marijuana.
       The action drew from a recently passed state law that sets licensing requirements for dispensaries.
       Under the city ordinance, existing medical marijana businesses interested in obtaining a license must do so by July 1.
       To continue operating at their current locations, according to the city law, such businesses:
  • Cannot be within a residential zone or within 400 feet of a school, alcohol or drug treatment facility or a residential child care facility.
  • Must own or lease a space with a storefront.
  • Must have a sales tax license and have paid sales taxes “in a timely manner.”
           In the past year, boosted by Colorado Amendment 20 (which legalized medical marijuana in 1999) and non-enforcement at the federal level, numerous dispensaries have opened for business in Colorado Springs, including several on the Westside. However, a local legal cloud had existed because a building permit is typically needed for new businesses, and such would have been denied for any business announcing itself as a dispensary because that type of use is not in the city regulations, Regional Building Department planner Bret Veltman explained in a recent interview.
           During public comments at the council meeting, several people identifying themselves as dispensary owners spoke in favor of the ordinance. One of these was John Stoner, who owns a dispensary in Old Colorado City. “This is medicine,” he emphasized. “There are people who need it and need safe access to it.”
           The council vote was 6-3, with Scott Hente, Daryl Glenn and Randy Purvis opposed.
           Speaking in favor of the ordinance, Mayor Lionel Rivera noted that the state law allows communities to vote to ban dispensaries. On the chance that a public petition for banning could wind up on the ballot this fall, he urged the medical marijuana people to “run a very professional industry.”
           El Paso County commissioners have previously passed a dispensary law similar to the city's.

    Westside Pioneer article