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Englewood weighs medical marijuana rules

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The Englewood City Council is considering proposed regulations that would establish requirements for caregivers in the city, meaning anyone who grows medical marijuana for up to five patients.
Tentatively, the proposal will be on the agenda for first reading at the March 5 city council meeting. The wording of the proposal should be available online at englewoodgov.org by March 2, under the agenda for the March 5 council meeting.
Provided the issue passes on first reading without major changes, it will be on the agenda for second and final reading at the March 19 council meeting. If the council passes the regulations, they will become effective 30 days later.
Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2000 allowing the use of marijuana to alleviate some debilitating medical conditions. Clients are requires to register with the state.
The numbers were fairly small until a state ruling in 2009 derailed a proposal to limit dispensaries to six clients. Since then, the number of clients registered in the state and the number of facilities growing and selling medical marijuana have increased dramatically.
There are three medical marijuana facilities in Englewood and, in 2010, the city established a moratorium prohibiting the establishment of any additional facilities. The moratorium was extended twice, and now runs through July of this year.
“Englewood’s city council approved regulations more than a year ago establishing rules governing commercial medical marijuana operations,” said Dan Brotzman, city attorney. “The regulations deal with issues like air filtration, prohibiting light and odor pollution and requiring a city sales-tax license.
“The regulations also established minimum distances between establishments and the minimum distances medical marijuana must be located away from facilities like schools and day care centers,” Brotzman added. “The city council also extended its moratorium on all new operations until July 2012 to give the state time to get all its regulations established and in operation. Now, the council is considering proposed regulations for caregivers, which are individuals who grow medical marijuana for up to five people.”
He said the proposals would establish two categories of caregivers – those who grow medical marijuana for themselves, loved ones or friends at no charge and those who make a profit on the medical marijuana they grow. The difference is, the rules don’t apply to caregivers who don’t sell what they grow, while caregivers who profit from growing medical marijuana are subject to the same rules as commercial operations.
The proposed caregiver regulations were initially discussed at the Feb. 21 city council study session. There was no consensus to move forward with the proposal. Instead, council members asked for additional wording to be added to the proposal, particularly wording establishing rules for transporting medical marijuana.
Council Member Rick Gillit said he was concerned the proposed regulations include no rules regarding the transportation of medical marijuana.
“I feel the medical marijuana should not be accessible to the driver,” he said. “I would prefer it be in a locked container and the container not be either in the trunk or rear of the vehicle.”
Jill Wilson, council representative, agreed. She said the rules definitely should prohibit medical marijuana being transported in an open container.
Brotzman said his office could draft additional language similar to the regulations dealing with open containers of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle.
Another issue concerned the requirement for filtration of the air in the area where medical marijuana is grown. Several council members said the filter systems could be fairly simple in a stand-alone building, but it would be complicated to provide filtration in a multifamily residence.
Brotzman said the requirement for filtration as well as regulations prohibiting light and odor pollution apply to anyone who grows medical marijuana.

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