Medical marijuana: Fort Collins dispensaries sue to stop Valentine's Day ban

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By 7 p.m. on Valentine's Day, all medical marijuana centers in Fort Collins must close their doors thanks to a voter-approved ban passed last November. But there may be hope for a renewed romance between the city and dispensaries, as a handful of centers have filed a last-minute lawsuit to stop the ban.

Several centers have already shut down; some have even handed stock and live plants over to the Fort Collins Police Department to be destroyed. Sergeant Jim Byrne says his department has been working with state regulators to help the business owners make the transition, and he feels the dispensaries have been cooperative so far. "A lot of these shops want to move to another city," he notes, "and to stay licensed, they have to leave our jurisdiction in good standing. So they have an incentive to do this."

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The bud bar at Organic Alternatives.
Steve Ackerman, owner of Organic Alternatives in Fort Collins, says his business is running through its inventory and closing on the Saturday before the Valentine's Day deadline. Unlike Medical Gardens of Colorado, though, Organic Alternatives has no plans to move: Fort Collins is home, Ackerman says. And he's fighting to keep it that way.

Ackerman, along with owners of Alternative Holistic Healing, Natural Alternatives for Health, Kind Care of Colorado, JDC LLC filed a suit last month against Mayor Karen Weitkunat, City Manager Darin Atteberry, the entire Fort Collins City Council, both the district attorney and the sheriff of Larimer County, and the Department of Revenue.

Attorney Brett Barney is handling the case. While he declined to discuss it in detail, he did give us a copy of the lawsuit to look over. The suit asks that the shutdowns be suspended while the courts rule on the legality of the ban itself and the future of dispensaries in the Fort.

The suit includes several different arguments about why the ban is unlawful; read it in its entirety after the jump. But here are some of the basics.

For starters, all of the shops participating in the lawsuit were in business prior to the December 1, 2009 moratorium on dispensaries in the Fort and the subsequent state laws that were passed in June 2010 (HB 1284 and SB 109). "Based on the guidance from city officials," the suit states, people leased and purchased retail spaces. The document goes on to imply that without city council's backing -- and lacking any idea that their businesses could be banned -- the shops' owners wouldn't have entered into those agreements.

In addition, the suit argues that the ban doesn't define "operations," forcing "ordinary people" to "guess as to its meaning and effect." Neither does the ban have any guidelines as to how the city should implement it, the document continues. As such, the plaintiffs are "susceptible to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement." The shops also haven't had any way to be heard through this process -- something Barney argues they have the right to do. Finally, the ban prohibits an entire industry in Fort Collins, which says is illegal. "That's why we have strip clubs," he notes.

Page down to read the lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction against the Fort Collins dispensary ban.


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Olybud
Olybud

ray martinez is an idiot. if he was worth a shit he would still be mayor. find some other shit to focus your  boredom on. go back to wherever city your biological parents abandoned you.

Mark
Mark

These people are my friends and my customers.  This was sad and unnecessary. 

Colorado Shu
Colorado Shu

Sadder than watching the "Hee Haw Meets Footloose" torch-bearing mobs chase cannabis and wellness back into its corner, where these devolving members of our species feel it belongs, is to witness them cheering on drill sites, gun shops, liquor stores and fast food joints sprouting up around their schools. 

News Wire
News Wire

No one forced these ganjapreneurs to open federally illegal drug distribution centers.

They gambled and lost.

Denver MMJ Dispensary Man
Denver MMJ Dispensary Man

I agree. The MMJ dispensary owners of Fort Collins should count their losses and move towns. The people have made their decision, maybe they'll change their minds in awhile.

Monkey
Monkey

Poor dispensary owners giving the last of their money to an attorney. Longmont center owners did the same thing and it was decided by the City Council, not the voting public. They lost their fight very quickly. To overturn what the people voted for will be difficult. If I voted to ban burger king along with the majority of my community, I would be pissed if they tried to mute my vote. Good luck, but a judge that rules against the public and for independent businesses breaking federal law would have to be a very daring judge.

Guest
Guest

Longmont MMC owners lost their injunction against the ban in part because of the Beinor vs ICAO Colo. Court of Appeals decision that said mmj is not a "right".http://www.cobar.org/opinions/...

Boulder District judge told Longmont MMC owners, 'sorry you got shut down, but since you don't have a right to exist, the city can shut you down.'

All goes back to the flawed language of Am. 20. Anyone who puts their money or their liberty on the line based on the poorly-written language of Am. 20 is really gambling a lot. It's tough to put your life and life savings on the line for a law that was only ever meant to be "symbolic". Thanks to MPP for the flawed language. Don't make the same mistake this year with MPP's new flawed language in Initiative 30.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

That's looking pretty promising on the Suit!  Nice article!  Hopefully the Judge comes back on an answer on this real quick...

News Wire
News Wire

Fails to state a case.

Summary dismissal.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

I wish them well but #40 in the lawsuit is inaccurate due to the Beinor ruling.  No one has a right to use mmj.  No rights, no standing.  Same thing happened in Longmont. 

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