City Council Votes : Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Can Stay Open

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Calling it a "placeholder ordinance", on Tuesday night the Colorado Springs City Council voted in favor of temporarily allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to continue to operate until the city can fully comply with new state rules that Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is expected to sign into law soon.

The vote was not without opposition, but mostly supporters packed City Hall for the hearing.

\Many voiced support for the industry, telling of how it helped them to live a better life, be it medically or economically - for those that work in dispensaries.

Supporter were relieved with the vote, as without city council passing it, all of the dispensaries in town could have been shutdown after July 1st, 2010.

The vote, and ordinance, will now keep dispensaries in business until the city can iron out regulations for their operation.

City Councilmember Sean Paige says the ordinance keeps businesses going and patients cared for while the city figures out how to regulate the industry, "it keeps the public process going, that we've had going now for seven months".

He says now, if you have a license to sell medical marijuana or if you file for one before July 1st, 2010, you can continue to be open and serve patients in the meantime.

Tanya Garduno with the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council says its also a relief for the economy, "those folks are, definitely don't want to lose their tenants, you know they finally have someone paying the rent".

She says by keeping the scores of dispensaries open, it keeps the local economy going, and adds this also keeps patients from being forced to look for the drug elsewhere, or illegally.

Paige says this ordinance at least buys the city time, "issues about where to put dispensaries and how to regulate them, those are still a part of the process ahead".

The city will now have until July 1st, 2011 to comply with the state, but Paige says he expects the city will figure out the business licensing and land use issues sometime over the next two to three months.

It should also be noted, per the state rules, city residents could also still get a chance to vote on whether or not they want to allow dispensaries within city limits.