Alternative Medical Solutions, a medical marijuana center in tiny Peyton, Colorado, has been closed for about a week, and could be shuttered permanently, because it missed a July license-application deadline with El Paso County. In response, attorney Sean McAllister sued the county on AMS' behalf, alleging that the dispensary didn't receive proper notice and asking for a second chance. And it looks like county commissioners may go along.
"Based on feedback from the county attorney, we believe there's a strong likelihood they're going to create an exception in this case," McAllister says. "That's not a final decision, but early indications are that the county attorney is likely to recommend that the commissioners adopt that policy."
As noted by the Colorado Springs Gazette, the El Paso County licensing deadline was July 21, just three weeks after new state regulations took effect. Prior to July 1, dispensaries utilized temporary use permits, not licenses. However, none of the El Paso MMCs were directly notified about the deadline. Instead, the county followed its usual procedure for notification, posting info in places like its website.
McAllister doesn't charge the county with breaking the rules. "I think they may have complied with the public-notice requirements about the legislation they passed in June," he says. "But they didn't notify individual applicants, and I believe there's only eight dispensaries in unincorporated El Paso County. They were just expected to be following the newspaper and the commissioners' website.
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"If this was an alcohol business, there would be a way for them to apply late," he adds. "And the owners have already poured half a million dollars into the dispensary, which is one of the most unique in the State of Colorado. It's in an old horse barn, and there's an enormous horse statue on top of it. And it's all in this very rural part of El Paso County."
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Being shut down for a week has definitely hurt AMS, McAllister maintains, and the closure will continue until an agreement can be reached. But he's hoping a quick resolution can be reached out of court.
If an exception is created, it will be "a rare example of a local board or commission doing what's right, even though it's a medical marijuana issue," he allows. "Maybe it's just a cost-benefit analysis on their part. But I'm still impressed that in a conservative jurisdiction that barely defeated a ban last year, the commissioners would give us this kind of consideration."
Look below to read the AMS lawsuit, which was filed last week.