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Next big medical-marijuana showdown: Boulder City Council considers moratorium on dispensaries tonight

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Earlier today, Judge Larry Naves gave medical-marijuana boosters a big win by voiding the Board of Health's decision to change a definition of caregiver put into place in July. But advocates have no time to rest. At 6 p.m. this evening at Boulder's Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway, the Boulder City Council will consider whether it should prohibit medical-marijuana businesses in the city, or regulate them -- and if regulation is chosen, whether a moratorium on new operations be put in place until rules are adopted.

Laura Kriho, public-relations coordinator for the Cannabis Therapy Institute, is taken aback by this agenda. After all, she attended a November 5 Planning Board meeting at which similar issues were addressed. Approximately fifty people spoke about medical marijuana, she says, and "the only one who was in favor of a moratorium was another dispensary owner. And why wouldn't you want a moratorium if you already had a dispensary? That just means less competition."

Likewise, Kriho points out, all of the city-council members have previously shown little interest in a moratorium. "Maybe they're just wanting to jump on the political bandwagon with all the other towns that are instituting moratoriums," she speculates, adding, "Boulder has a reputation around the state as a liberal bastion, and that's why this is important. If Boulder institutes a moratorium, what kind of a message does that send to other cities in the state?"

Kriho would prefer that officials elsewhere hear comments like those made at that planning meeting. "It was a five-and-a-half-hour meeting, and in all that time, nobody presented evidence that dispensaries had done any harm," she allows. "By the end of the meeting, planning-board members were saying, 'Why are we here?' And that's unusual for Boulder. People usually complain about everything, which is something they mentioned. They said, 'We can't believe only one person spoke against it.' But that makes sense. Who would complain about the number of business licenses being filed in the middle of the worst economic situation we've had since the Great Depression? That's unbelievable to me."

Even so, medical-marijuana supporters aren't taking any chances with the council. They're encouraging anyone and everyone with an interest in the issue to attend the meeting -- and since more than 200 people, by Kriho's estimate, turned up at the planning board session, it could be quite a scene. She hopes the turnout will help council members better understand the will of the people.

"In Boulder County, we have Stan Garnett, who has promoted himself as the most progressive district attorney on medical marijuana," she says. "And we would like the city council to be the most progressive city council on medical marijuana, too."

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