Denver City Council committee moves forward with medical marijuana zoning proposal

A revised version of a proposed Denver city ordinance that, according to attorney Warren Edson, would have closed 137 of Denver's 150 medical marijuana grow operations, and potentially dispensaries associated with them, passed through Denver City Council's Special Issues Committee this afternoon.

Medical marijuana advocates had argued that councilmember Judy Montero's initial proposal would have prevented grandfathering in grow operations currently operating in areas whose zoning was recently changed. State law stipulates that all dispensaries must grow at least 70 percent of their medicine, and many grow operations were set up before the city had a chance to amend its new zoning code. Because of that, many facilities are located in what are now considered non-conforming locations.

The proposal that made it out of committee is a combination of Montero's plan and a proposal by councilman Chris Nevitt that would allow a currently operating location to be grandfathered in for two years until its license is up for renewal. At that point, owners would have to go to a hearing at the Department of Excise and Licenses to determine if the grow could remain open for another two years before its license would again be up for renewal. The compromise plan would also allow for ownership of the grow facility to change hands under certain circumstances, such as through the sale of the associated dispensary, corporate restructuring or death of the owner.

The Montero-Nevitt proposal was debated for nearly two hours before it passed through the committee. Several other amendments raised at the meeting did not make it. Among them: a proposal that would have required liability insurance for dispensaries, and another that would have made the city rules stricter than those of the state, prohibiting grow facilities and edibles manufacturers from operating within 1,000 feet of a school.

Since last year, council has been working to align city codes passed last January with the new state laws that regulate medical marijuana. The full Denver City Council will hold a public hearing on the current proposal on February 14.

For more of our medical marijuana coverage, go to theMarijuana archives.

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