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Medical marijuana dispensary banned by Castle Rock hopeful of reopening soon

A decision last week preventing the City of Centennial from outlawing medical marijuana dispensaries inside town limits was good news for more operations than just CannaMart, the business that brought suit against the community in the first place. It also bodes well in the matter of Plants 4 Life, a dispensary in Castle Rock that's been forbidden to dispense medical marijuana in that burg, and is struggling to survive as a result.

"They're really hanging on by a thread," says attorney Lauren Davis, who represents Plants 4 Life, and also worked on the CannaMart case.

But a break could come soon. Davis says she's been in contact with Castle Rock town attorney Bob Slentz, who told her he should be able to reveal the community's next step either later today or tomorrow. And she's optimistic that things will turn in Plants 4 Life's favor.

The judge in the CannaMart case, notes Davis, "struck down the reasoning that because marijuana is an illegal substance under federal laws, towns can ban it" -- the same legal rationale Castle Rock has been using. "Towns have to uphold Colorado constitutional rights," she goes on. "They can't ban something people have a constitutional right to. They can regulate it, but they can't ban it."

As such, Davis believes that Castle Rock "has no leg to stand on," especially in light of differences between the CannaMart and Plants 4 Life disputes. For instance, CannaMart didn't fully disclose the nature of its business, whereas Plants 4 Life did so from the beginning.

"There was no question Castle Rock knew it was a medical marijuana dispensary," Davis says. "We have an e-mail showing the town's knowledge. The owners jumped through every hoop, including hoops they shouldn't have had to jump through, and then the town said, 'Oops, we're going to revoke your license and remove the medical marijuana piece.' And there's another difference, too. In Castle Rock, there was an administrative hearing, even though it was a sham of a hearing, because they were using the federal law that they now can't rely on."

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A change in policy can't come too soon for Plants 4 Life, which has remained open but hasn't been allowed to provide medical marijuana for weeks. "They have all these patients who want medical marijuana and can't get it," Davis allows. "Actually, one of the caregivers had to take some patients up to Denver to get medicine because they can't drive."

This anecdote raises the prospect of Plants 4 Life filing suit against Castle Rock for loss of income even if the town backs down and allows it to operate as a medical marijuana dispensary. Davis says she'd have to discuss that move with her clients before moving forward, but she sees potential benefits from such an action.

"There's the question of precedential value," she says. "Do we go forward because it sets a precedent as well as because of their losses?"

The answer to those questions should be forthcoming soon.

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