Medical marijuana dispensary closure: City council's Carla Madison defends amendment

Thumbnail image for carla madison photo.jpg
Carla Madison.
Last Friday, Altitude Organic Medicine's Highlands location held a combination goodbye party and going-out-of-business sale after being forced to close due to a controversial amendment that essentially zoned AOM out of existence.

Owner Brian Cook promises a lawsuit -- but city councilwoman Carla Madison defends the measure that shut him down even as she expresses sympathy for Cook's dilemma.

Here's a Cook-centric take on the situation from one of the items linked above:

"We opened in November, and we've been paying sales taxes -- increasing amounts of sales taxes -- every month since then," Cook notes. But in March, the dispensary was denied a license "based on our zone, which was an R-MU-30 -- a residential, mixed-use zone."

Cook is perplexed by this turn-down, since the code for R-MU-30 encourages commercial retail. "Our attorneys made sure of that before we opened," he emphasizes.

To learn more about the complex issues related to medical marijuana dispensaries and zoning, read Joel Warner's post about the issue, which was published last week.

At this point, however, Cook believes the issue should be moot "because the whole citywide zoning change goes into effect today, and we are now in a commercial zone, not that other zone."

But there's been a complication. According to Cook, council members Doug Linkhart and Carla Madison have proposed an amendment specifically to prevent AOM from continuing operation. And because of the previous license denial, its passage would mean the dispensary couldn't be moved to another location, "which is all we want," Cook insists. "We'd be screwed.

"We're a good, local business," he continues, "and they're trying to bankrupt us" for reasons that he thinks have to do with heavyweight political interests interested in eliminating competition for another nearby dispensary.

According to Madison, Cook's assumptions about the motives behind the amendment in question are simply incorrect.

"When we redid the zoning code, we changed a lot of the little neighborhood, embedded districts to mixed use," she says. "Before the code change, they couldn't do things like expand.

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