Oak Creek The Oak Creek Planning Commission voted, 4-1, to recommend a land use change that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open in downtown Oak Creek. The vote came during a well-attended but relatively short meeting Wednesday night.
The Planning Commission was faced with a proposal from a group of medical marijuana caregivers, led and financed by Stagecoach resident Jacob Wise, to open a dispensary at Nancy Crawford Boulevard and Sharp Avenue.
Commission members agreed to send the land use change request forward to the Oak Creek Town Board with a recommendation for approval but added a series of requirements for the business. Many of the requirements were taken from the regulations the Steamboat Springs City Council enacted this month.
The requirements include that there will be no deliveries of marijuana to any patients unless they cannot go to the dispensary because of a medical condition, that a staff member is present during the normal hours of operation and that the caregivers who will provide the marijuana undergo a fingerprint and background check.
During questioning by the commission, Wise repeatedly said security would be a high priority. He said because the space he is renting used to house a bank, it already has a 7-foot-by-9-foot vault, which now is usable again. Wise also said he plans to install five high-resolution security cameras on the site and even offered to have a live view of the security cameras available on a Web site.
Commission members said that likely would violate medical privacy laws and instead added a requirement that the recordings be available to law enforcement only in the case of a crime.
Scott Wedel, co-owner of a building across the street, said he had no problems with the dispensary opening and neither did his tenants.
Wendy Villa was the only speaker to oppose the dispensary. She said the location is near two bus stops and that children might become curious about marijuana. She said that although there will be extra security and a safe during business hours, the safe would be open during the day and “it would be the risk” to the town’s sole police officer.
Wise said Villa’s comments about the children almost made him cry and agreed with Villa that it would be a bad influence, but he said that children see people smoking cigarettes every day.
Commissioner Jackie Brown said she had researched medical marijuana laws leading up to Wednesday’s meeting. She said Oak Creek should consider Centennial, which tried to ban all dispensaries in the town. On Dec. 31, a judge ruled that the city could not close shops that were operating within state law. The city also is facing several lawsuits from the action, she said.
Commissioner Chuck Wisecup, the only planning commissioner who also sits on the Oak Creek Town Board, voted without comment against the recommendation to approve the land use change. After the meeting, he said that as chief of the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, he sees the effects of drugs every day and considers marijuana as harmful as or more harmful than alcohol.
The request for land use change will go before the Town Board at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 28. The Town Board then can approve or reject the recommendation or add or reject requirements.