Last month, attorney Warren Edson shared his concern that language in a Denver City Council bill could close 137 of 150 medical marijuana grows -- and even after a committee came up with a compromise agreement, he feared the closure threat had not been eliminated. Now that the document has been released -- see it below -- he sees potentially troublesome contradictions. Edson likes some aspects of the latest draft, including a "cleaner definition" of alcohol and drug-treatment facilities that can't be within 1,000 feet of a medical marijuana center, confirmation that the city doesn't have to repeat a background check on applicants if the state has already completed one, and a passage "that indicates there's no intent to regulate primary caregivers."
However, the manner in which grows are grandfathered under the new regs remains confusing, he believes. One proposal stated that only original license applicants would be exempt from new zoning requirements -- a problem, since a large number either transferred ownership or switched allegiances with dispensaries after initially filing the paperwork. And that language lingers in the following section:
Prohibited locations. No medical marijuana center license shall be issued for the following locations...
Within one thousand (1,000) feet of any other medical marijuana center licensed premises or of any premises licensed under Article XI of this Chapter 24, with the distance computed by direct measurement from the nearest portion of the building in which one center is located to the nearest portion of the building in which the other center is located, using a route of direct pedestrian access. This restriction shall not apply to any location where the same applicant submitted a license application for a medical marijuana dispensary under Article XI of this Chapter 24 prior to March 1, 2010, was exempt from the spacing requirement set forth in Article XI, and subsequently received a license under Article XI.
However, a second section appears to okay ownership transfers:
Medical marijuana center licenses. Any transfer of ownership of a medical marijuana center license shall not affect any exemption that the licensed premises may enjoy from the spacing or other location restrictions set forth in section 24-508 (c).
"I don't understand how the exemption runs with the land in one section" -- the latter, which specifically mentions the premises -- "and appears to run with the applicant in the other section," Edson says. "And it's the applicant thing that scares me."
Read the entire Denver City Council bill here:
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: MMC co-owner Morgan Carr says council amendments could cost 1000s."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.