Workshop devoted to medical marijuana

By Pat Sunderland

As a starting point for licensing medical marijuana centers and cultivation facilities, Delta City Council members are reviewing regulations in place in nearby communities. A three-month moratorium has been established to give council time to work through the regulatory framework for the medical marijuana facilities authorized by city voters in November's general election.

Since his office developed the regulations for DeBeque, Delta city attorney David McConaughy suggested those regs as a starting point for discussion. He also provided a breakdown of application requirements and operating regulations for Palisade and Ridgway. All three communities have approved the sale and cultivation of medical marijuana.

At a work session scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, Delta City Council members will be discussing how those regulations can be adapted to Delta's needs. Marijuana facilities must be licensed by both the city and the state.

City council will also be looking at zoning regulations adopted by a previous city council when a petition for recreational marijuana was being circulated. The regulations were shelved when the petition was pulled.

It will be up to the city to determine how licenses will be processed and reviewed, set boundary restrictions and establish operational requirements (addressing matters such as business hours, odor and lighting).

In DeBeque, town administrators do the initial review for compliance with code. Ultimate approval rests with the town board. The number of licenses is capped at four.

In Ridgway, no facility is permitted within 1,000 feet of a school, school bus stop, drug treatment facility, principal campus of a college, day care facility or youth facility.

McConaughy cautioned against creating too many buffers, which would effectively "sterilize" the entire city. "The voters did approve this measure," he said.

City clerk Jolene Nelson explained requirements for retail liquor licenses in communities with populations under 10,000. Since 2017, retail liquor stores can not be located within 500 feet of any school, or within 3,000 feet of one another.

Should medical marijuana have similar restrictions? That's one of a long list of questions to be addressed at the work session.

"Please take your time and make some common sense decisions," business owner Orval Proctor advised council. "This will change the whole atmosphere of this community."