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Medical marijuana: Longmont City Council moves toward dispensary ban

Medical-marijuana-sign.jpg
Longmont moves to ban dispensaries.
Last night, the Longmont City Council held a first reading of an ordinance that would ban medical marijuana centers in the city and restrict medical marijuana patients and primary caregivers. Judging from the 7-0 vote in favor of the ban, dispensary days are limited in Longmont.

The council will hold a second reading on May 24, and if the ban is approved then, all medical marijuana centers would have to close by July 1. Primary caregivers would still be allowed to grow marijuana plants, but the ordinance would limit them to no more than twelve plants and 150 square feet of grow space.

At the hearing last night, the council listened to an hour and a half of public commentary from medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and citizens -- both for and against the measure.

"Your heart breaks for folks that marijuana does do some good for," councilman Gabe Santos tells Westword. "But unfortunately, with the Controlled Substance Act, it's against federal law. Some of it was very passionate. I've read research about how marijuana helps cancer patients with chemotherapy. We had one young man who had half a lung taken out and medical marijuana has helped him with chemotherapy. We are affecting people's lives. However, the rule of law has come in.

"I understand the use of medical marijuana for some cancer patients and other ailments," he continues. "Unfortunately, the federal law states that distribution or sale of marijuana is against the law. I have stated numerous times that if people want to see medical marijuana legal there is a process to do that.

"I have no problem with a member of congress running a bill through the house or the senate and getting it passed and sending it to the President's desk for signature and declassifying marijuana so medical marijuana prescriptions could be written by an actual doctor," Santos continues. "It would be distributed through actual physicians. I believe that's probably the best course. But other than a voter approved, constitutional amendment, I don't see where that supersedes federal law."

Both Santos and councilwoman Katie Witt believe there may be changes to what primary caregivers are allowed to grow. Witt views the ordinance as a compromise.

"I did not want to see the commercialization of marijuana in Longmont, so we were trying to strike a balance between honoring the rights of Amendment 20 and the rights of our community," she says. "We wanted to make sure the patients and caregivers who need to be able to grow will be able to. I think that the fact that there was unanimous support for a ban as well as making sure patients' rights were being honored is very beneficial for our community."

Owners of medical marijuana centers have two paths of recourse: start a petition and collect signatures to place the issue on the ballot for public vote next fall or file a temporary restraining against Longmont, as attorney Rob Corry did in Loveland and Castle Rock.

"It's obviously ridiculous public policy," says Corry of Longmont's ordinance. "It will do the exact opposite of what the city council wants. It will cause an increase in home growing. It takes it out of regulated, taxed outlets and puts it in homes where children are."

Corry says he plans to file a temporary restraining order against Longmont and will work with medical marijuana dispensary owners to put the ordinance to a public vote.

The Longmont Times-Call reports there are seven dispensaries in Longmont with a sales tax license. Rocky Pederson, co-owner of New Age Wellness, has held his license since September 2009 and worries about the ordinance's effect on medical marijuana patients.

"It would be completely burdensome," he says. "For some patients it could lead to seriously harmful health issues. They would have to go to Boulder. A lot of our patients can walk into us. All that would be eliminated and they would have to go off and find a random person growing twelve plants in their basement."

Advocates for medical marijuana seem to be more concerned about creating a black market, but the issue might not be settled on the local level.

"Regardless of if there are dispensaries in the city of Longmont there is still a black market for marijuana," says Santos. "I don't believe these (dispensaries) are legitimate businesses. If I remember correctly the distribution and sale of marijuana is still illegal in the state of Colorado. If those that are advocating for medical marijuana would like to see it legitimized for pure medical purposes, there is a process. Take it up with the Feds, that's their job.

"The city of Longmont is stuck in between a rock and a hard place," he adds, "because state law says this and federal law says this and the municipalities are left to figure out where the wiggle room is."

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23 comments
Ecodude
Ecodude

What a strange turn of events. Throughmy former caregiver, I was invited to represent a patient's view at an evening sponsored by the Longmont CityCouncil in March 2010, to discuss how the city should regulate the MMJ industry. The discussion that evening was certainly very different than therhetoric that is flying around Longmont now. In the evening forum I attended, the citycouncil members were all singing in unison how the city was not interested inclosing down or banning the industry, but taxing it and regulating it fairly forthe benefit of all involved. All citizens who participated were ingeneral agreement as well that regulation of the industry was preferable to anall out ban for a myriad of reasons. One of the biggest concerns posed by propertyowners that evening was that home grows proliferating in their residentialrental properties were unregulated and could pose fire hazards. Thegeneral consensus among landlords in the sub-group in which I participated wasthat licensed, regulated, and zoned commercial grows were a much preferredthing and should not only be allowed, but encouraged. Not one person I met that night suggested aban on dispensaries or commercial grows was the way to go. Detailed notes about this community outreachprocess here: http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/c... Wow. What a huge steaming pile ofbullshit that turned out to be, huh? So, after the exhaustive efforts andexpenditure of time and money by the Longmont City Council to determine themost effective ways to regulate and tax the MMJ industry (which are documentedin the pdf link above), and after receiving overwhelming community feedbackthat regulation, not a ban, is the way to go forward, Gabe Santos is now onrecord claiming that he never wanted to see the commercialization of marijuanain Longmont in the first place, and would rather see patients forcedunderground into the black market or into the basements of their homes in orderto acquire their medication. I don’t know who tightened the screws on theLongmont City Council, but they are clearly ignoring their own research and thefeedback they received from their own community. By the way, Gabe, my MMJ recommendation WASwritten by a REAL doctor. You may want to take note that that's the onlyway you can get one. Also, in response to your statement that "If Iremember correctly the distribution and sale of marijuana isstill illegal in the state of Colorado" I refer you to our state'sconstitutional amendment 20 which states that patients and caregivers areentitled to protections "...for his or her acquisition,possession, manufacture, production, use, SALE, DISTRIBUTION, dispensing, ortransportation of marijuana..." for medical use. (emphasis my own)Further, the State of Colorado has given municipalities guidelines for regulating and taxing these business you claim to have no legitimacy. Perhaps you have been sleeping for the last year. Clearly, you and your cronies on the council do not remember anything correctly at all, and putyour own agenda ahead of the facts. Regardless, you too will be proven to be on the wrongside of history in this case.

Sean Swanson
Sean Swanson

Wait a minute, so they want to limit caregivers to no more than 12 plants, even if you have 5 patients??!?!

Robert
Robert

Longmont may ban MMCs as it wills. The issue of the commercialization of cannabis is not described in the Constitution, but caregivers may dispense cannabis as medicine to their patients irrespective of any decision taken taken there..

GetReal
GetReal

Somebody has the facts wrong. According to the Longmont Paper:

"The measure, which still has to pass one more vote before it becomes official, would ban all commercial marijuana businesses. However, homes could grow up to 200 cubic feet of flowering plants per patient in the home and 400 cubic feet of nonflowering plants per patient, to a maximum of 1,200 cubic feet flowering and 2,400 cubic feet nonflowering. "

http://www.timescall.com/news_...

Patient
Patient

"It's obviously ridiculous public policy," says Corry of Longmont's ordinance. "It will do the exact opposite of what the city council wants. It will cause an increase in home growing. It takes it out of regulated, taxed outlets and puts it in homes where children are."

Rob Corry doesn't think marijuana should be grown in homes with children in them? Why is this being used as a threat in Longmont? Responsible parents can't cultivate marijuana in their homes? Maybe he'll explain these reefer madness-esque statements at the *CTI-sponsored* event hes speaking at tonight. Maybe Tim Tipton will be there scamming patients too.

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

Longmont is not between a rock and a hard place, it's simply an excuse to shift blame.

This will be the fate of all dispensaries eventually. As they've stood by and watched caregivers and dispensaries in other towns lose rights, thinking it would be good for their bottom line, they've lost allies. The only ones to stand up now are lawyers on retainer.

The industry better come together as one, or get squashed. Everytime someone is disenfranchised from their rights, your rights are diminished through the loss of power.

They've done well to divide us.

shackhouser
shackhouser

She states:

"I did not want to see the commercialization of marijuana in Longmont, so we were trying to strike a balance between honoring the rights of Amendment 20 and the rights of our community," she says.

Since when does this dense chick think she has the right to "strike a balance" with honoring the Constitution of Colorado. I don't think its up for debate, lady.

Andrew
Andrew

Gabe Santos is a schmuck."I have stated numerous times that if people want to see medical marijuana legal there is a process to do that."Medical marijuana is legal and a process was followed to make that so. See amendment 20 in the state constitution if you have any doubts about this."It would be distributed through actual physicians"Why should it be distributed by physicians? Physicians generally don't distribute prescription drugs, pharmacists do. Physicians write prescriptions and non-physicians fill prescriptions. Have you never been to the doctor before? "I don't believe these (dispensaries) are legitimate businesses. If I remember correctly the distribution and sale of marijuana is still illegal in the state of Colorado." Wrong again Santos. The state has legitimized these businesses. Have you not been following the state legislation? The state has been collecting business license fees from dispensaries. If the state wanted to shut down dispensaries they could, but they haven't, instead they have passed regulation to make sure dispensaries are operated in a certain way.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

So what if a couple of dispensaries get shut, why did you ever talk to your City Council in the first place? The main rule of dealing weed is don't tell people you're dealing weed. Oh yea you asked if it was OK and now they said no, no shit!

Kwame
Kwame

Longmont is like the biggest shit hole in Colorado. Half the businesses are just fronts for cocaine money to move through. All 7 of these voters probably have family members moving Cocaine from Coast to Coast through Greeley.

Just a few things to think about.

Robert
Robert

The issue of home cultivation as a fire hazard came up at a meeting of Aurora's working group which I attended (before the ban). People operating too many space heaters can trip circuit breakers, but absent dangerous rewires of house's electrical systems, the safety designed into the system is ample to prevent fires -- the best answer to such concerns is to point to an absence of conflagrations in houses in which cannabis is cultivated. Caregiver and patients who grow cannabis in their own homes are part of a much larger group of Coloradans who grow plants indoors without incident. It was pointed out by a building inspector that many homes they inspect in which cannabis has been grown are not in technical compliance with electrical codes, because 220V lighting is not approved for any residential use. Many houses have 220V service, and such lighting is not inherently dangerous, but this is something used to justify grossly overblown concerns about growing cannabis at home.

Robert
Robert

"No", I disagree -- Patient: Corry is not articulating his own beliefs -- he's turning the prohibitionists' own arguments against them! IF they believe that cannabis should not be grown in homes, THEN they should allow MMCs and their OPC operations to exist. The application of deductive logic is something with which many in the movement seem unacquainted.

Patients, users of cannabis, meet effective argument. We aren't going to make cannabis legal without storming the bastions of power and carrying the day in a war of polemics. We need many, many more with Rob's ability and training to set themselves to the task. How can you help?

No
No

+1. It's lame of Corry to use this crap as leverage.

Ecodude
Ecodude

Regarding the reality about home grows, I agree with you 100%, Robert. I was just passing along the opinions expressed by property owners at a gathering in Longmont at this time last year, which contradict the opinions of the City Council at present.

The point being, that the civic and business leaders from Longmont that I spoke with at the event last year had no problem with regulating centers and grows, and no one who spoke publicly in that gathering was pushing for a ban.

Specifically, landlords were much more inclined to support the notion of regulated commercial grows and centers which were strictly zoned, because from their point of view it offered more control over the industry by the city, and would reduce the number of unregulated grows in their residential properties. Further, everyone I spoke with welcomed the tax revenue with open arms.

I am perplexed. A unanimous vote by the council to ban dispensaries does not reflect the opinions I heard in that public forum. And if you look at the document link in my post above, pushing for a ban was not on the council's agenda a year ago.

Fear and paranoia are the weapons of choice used by the prohibitionists. It is clear to me that someone has been very effective in using these tools against city council members around the state, suggesting that they could somehow become involved in a Federal dragnet and be personally convicted of money laundering or some other crime if they allow or support the passage of laws that regulate and tax MMJ centers and grows in their communities.

Prohibitionists have no truth supporting their cause. Shock doctrine is all they have to forward their agenda. In this case, it looks like it worked.

Patient
Patient

Did you miss the part where they approved home grows? Corry's straw man argument is an insult to the cannabis community. These city officials want people growing in their homes, maybe Corry will change their minds though.

Robert Chase- another CTI ally who has it wrong. Go smoke all of those stolen meds with Tim Tipton.

No
No

disagreed. We need to carefully avoid the kind of rhetoric. It puts patients at risk for the cause of protecting rights of commercial entities. We need to drop this garbage.

Robert
Robert

I'm sorry you think that. Your position is tantamount to saying that we should not use the inconsistency in the prohibitionists' position against them; that would be lame.

Erick's mom
Erick's mom

Erick, we told you to stop posting here. Your probation officer is pissed.

instntkrma
instntkrma

Robert, where is the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers website?

Robert
Robert

I represent the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers -- ah, you anonymous, clueless detractors!

Robert
Robert

I refer the gentlemen to the reply I gave some moments ago.

No
No

if we give the gays marriage, maybe they won't be kissing where we can see them

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