A pair of crucial medical marijuana ordinances passed Monday night at a public meeting of the Pueblo City Council.
The zoning ordinance restricts the potential locations a medical marijuana dispensary can open to a handful of locations, most of which are on the outskirts of town. The areas are located in business and industrial zones.
The licensing ordinance lays out regulations for applying, attaining, and renewing the license. The application fee for a medical marijuana center is $3,472 with an annual renewal cost of $1,684.
Because medical marijuana centers must grow at least 70 percent of their own product, this often means having a separate growing operation. One issue both the city and county have run into when dealing with licensing of these operations is how to hold a public hearing and not breach the confidentiality of growing sites. A late amendment to the state law stipulates the location of medical marijuana growing operations are to be kept secret and are not to be part of the public record.
To accommodate this, the city has decided to make it part of the licensing regulations that any growing operation must be on an adjacent lot to the medical marijuana center. The applicant will fill out a second application for the growing operation, with its address kept confidential, and the city can move forward with a public hearing on the separate center without having to divulge the growing site’s actual address.
This way, residents and business owners in the area can be made aware that a medical marijuana center has been proposed for a particular location, and that there is the potential for a growing operation to be somewhere nearby, without violating the confidentiality the state law provides.
Now that the city council passed both of these ordinances, medical marijuana operations will be able to begin the process of opening shop. However, because the city had no officially recognized dispensaries as of July 1st this year, no new dispensaries will be able to actually begin operating until July 1, 2011 due to a state-wide moratorium on new dispensaries.
Meanwhile, the threat of a question on this November's ballot that would give voters the chance to ban dispensaries still looms. There’s no word yet on how close dispensary opponents are to reaching the required number of valid signatures on their petition.