Marijuana: Boulder moves forward with recreational pot rules

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Boulder City Council members gave initial approval to newly created medical and recreational marijuana rules at last night's meeting, picking up where they left off months ago after voting to delay rule-making until after statewide regulations had been laid out.

According to the draft posted in the council agenda, most of what is proposed is taken directly from regulations for medical marijuana.

But there are a few notable exceptions.

Primarily, businesses for recreational cannabis will have size limitations that medical marijuana stores do not, including a maximum of 1,000 plants for grow operations and 3,000 square feet of space for storefronts. Manufacturers of edibles will be limited to 15,000 square feet of production space and 600 pounds of unprocessed herb at a time.

Edibles/infused-product kitchens are fine by the council if they are directly connected with a grow operation also located in the city. Currently, all six medical marijuana infused-product manufacturers in Boulder meet those guidelines, according to council reports.

As for testing facilities, they can have no more than 100 pounds of raw and concentrated cannabis at a time. Rules would also allow an entrepreneur to own only one recreational-cannabis store within city limits, similar to the way in which alcohol licenses work at the state level.

Limiting the size of marijuana businesses helps protect "the safety of emergency responders from entering the business," council documents say, and is more practical because it requires fewer officials to conduct inspections. Medical marijuana centers in Boulder aren't limited in the number of plants they can grow, though plant counts at MMJ centers are based on how many patients they serve.

Rules would also prevent recreational shops from being less than 1,000 feet from schools, day-care centers or one another. Council says that at least five existing medical dispensaries won't be able to convert because they would violate those spacing requirements.

The rules also propose a moratorium on accepting new medical marijuana businesses between March and October of 2014 to give the city time to catch up on what it expects to be a flood of applications from dispensaries looking to convert from medical to recreational dispensaries. The timeline for recreational facilities is somewhat vague, but medical dispensaries that have applied for conversion to recreational dispensaries by October 1, 2013, will be prioritized and presumably licensed as quickly as possible. All conversion, as well as new applications received after that time, will be processed between June and September of 2014.

Residents will have a chance to voice their opinion on the proposed rules at the September 17 Boulder City Council meeting. A full version of the proposed regulations is available at the Boulder City Council website.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64 co-author 'thrilled' by feds' decision about Colorado pot law" and "Jenny Kush, cannabis-scene star, killed in wrong-way crash on I-25."

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