Oak Creek Town Board members received thunderous applause at their meeting Thursday night after passing a resolution supporting medical marijuana.
Motivated by the highly publicized case of Hayden resident Don Nord, the Town Board unanimously passed a resolution that asks Colorado lawmakers to support the use of medical marijuana.
Nord's medical marijuana-related case recently was dismissed in federal court. Nord, a registered medical marijuana user, had 2 ounces of marijuana, several plants and growing materials confiscated from his home in October 2003 by Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team officers. Nord's case has been in the court system since Judge James Garrecht ordered GRAMNET to return the confiscated marijuana to him. GRAMNET, a federal entity, refused the order, and Nord's case went to federal court.
Mike Kien, an Oak Creek Town Board and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition member, said the only way to get the medical marijuana issue public attention was to petition and write to local lawmakers.
Kien has collected more than 90 petitions from Routt County residents supporting medical marijuana and got the idea for writing a town resolution from his experiences with Nord's case.
"I invented the whole thing," Kien said.
The resolution states that the Supreme Court puts people in jeopardy by not allowing those who are ill to benefit from the uses of medical marijuana and that Congress should consider legalizing medical marijuana because of its benefits.
To the best of Kien's knowledge, the Oak Creek Town Board is the only governing body in Colorado that has voted for a medical marijuana resolution.
"I am pleased as punch," he said. "I'm very proud of my fellow board members."
The board also heard Thursday from Kris Hammond, the Steamboat Springs attorney who represents Nord.
Hammond told board members that in the 2000 Colorado election, more than 900,000 people voted to legalize medical marijuana, and the state's constitutional amendment passed. He said a resolution is the first place to start the process of legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level.
"The only way the democratic process is going to succeed is when local leaders recognize that when Coloradans vote for something, it usually means something," Hammond said.
Hammond asked the board to take a stand and support the issue.
After some deliberation about the wording of the resolution, it unanimously was approved by the board.
"I'm hoping that other cities will see what Oak Creek did and support other resolutions," Nord said. "It's the only way to get anywhere with the federal government."
Kien plans to send the resolution to President Bush, U.S. Sens. Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and other politicians.
Also Thursday, the board finalized meeting times to discuss the possibility of Oak Creek creating its own building department.
The Town Board waived its building codes in June after Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman decided it would be impossible to meet the requirements of the Routt County Building Department regarding the completion of the town's skating rink.
The debate has been ongoing, and the Town Board has scheduled a meeting with the International Code Council and the Routt County Building Department in hopes of discussing the town's requirements and whether its needs may lead to the creation of a separate building department.
The two dates are work sessions, and although the public is invited to the meetings, there won't be discussions and public comments won't be heard.
Rodeman said the board will meet ICC officials at 1 p.m. Aug. 19 at Oak Creek Town Hall. The second meeting will be with Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan and Routt County Building Official Carl Dunham at 2 p.m. Aug. 24.
"These meetings are going to be very, very important to us," Rodeman told Town Board members. "It's incredibly important you all try to make it."