Medical marijuana: Did Boulder's publication of a map showing grow locations violate the law?

"Boulder Accidentally Discloses Secret Marijuana Grow Sites," published by the Boulder Daily Camera, reveals that the city put a map on its website showing the whereabouts of sixty cannabis cultivation centers. Along the way, the piece quotes Boulder assistant city attorney Kathy Haddock as asserting that the map should never have been published -- but in a Westword interview, she denies making this comment and several others attributed to her.

As the Camera notes, "State law prohibits local governments from disclosing the location of so-called cultivation centers, and state lawmakers have exempted records that contain identifying information about the sites from the Colorado Open Records Act out of fear that would-be thieves might target large growing operations." But a map that ID'd the locations of "60 cultivation centers, 45 dispensaries and 12 product manufacturing sites that have applied for a medical marijuana business license" was included in a December 29 agenda briefing sent to Boulder City Council members and made available online.

At this writing, a briefing of the sort described by the Camera is not on the city's site. But according to the paper, the map in question shows "clusters of cultivation centers in Gunbarrel, near Lookout Road and 63rd Street, and in north Boulder along Broadway and Lee Hill Drive... The highest concentration of growing operations is in east Boulder, near Arapahoe Avenue and 55th Street, and along Foothills Parkway near Pearl Parkway."

Following the description above cis the following passage:

Kathy Haddock, Boulder's senior assistant city attorney who advises the council on medical marijuana issues, said Thursday that the map never should have been published.

"The state law requires the city, and all governments, to keep the location of grow locations confidential," she said. "It's something we should have pulled out."

Haddock said the map would be removed from the city's Web site.

Problem: Haddock, who hadn't gotten a chance to see the Camera item prior to her conversation with Westword, denies making such comments. In her words, "I never said that, and I never thought that."

Her true views?

"The law prohibits the specific locations from being disclosed, and the map doesn't disclose specific locations," she says. "There are no addresses on there, just the general vicinity" -- information that Haddock believes is important to the council, since "they need to make land-use decisions and figure things out."

As such, she continues, "I don't think it violates the law, because the law defines location as a specific parcel where a cultivation facility is located."

Moreover, "grow operations in particular have a very distinctive odor. We get complaints all the time from people driving down 55th and Arapahoe and smelling them there -- but that doesn't mean they know specifically where the grows are. So I don't think the map gives them away any more than their nose would.

"If somebody thinks the state law should be more strict, so that even general locations can't be released, that's a totally different question. But I don't think the map violates the letter or the intent of state law."

Given the prominence of the Camera article, which notes that council could "circumvent the open records act exemption for cultivation centers by requiring applicants for medical marijuana business licenses to waive their right to privacy" at a January 18 meeting, Haddock expects that personnel from her office will discuss the incident. "We obviously check and double-check when issues are raised," she says. "But nothing's been raised, because there hasn't been a violation -- because specific locations haven't been released."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Boulder official says state can't defend moratorium."