Steamboat City Council revises medical marijuana law
Council approves new ordinance; dispensary operator sees it as a ban
June 21, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council unanimously approved the second reading of a revision to its medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday night that will regulate the city's existing three dispensaries until residents decide in November whether to allow them to continue to operate.
But Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher and local attorney Lindsey Bates, who represents D&C Medical Marijuana and Therapeutic Massage, said the revised ordinance essentially bans the operation of the three local dispensaries.
City Council member Jon Quinn also expressed concern that the revised ordinance made the operation of medical marijuana businesses tenuous.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich said the city's existing medical marijuana ordinance allowed the dispensaries to operate in compliance with Amendment 20, which Colorado voters approved in 2000 to make the use of marijuana legal for people with certain medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation.
Lettunich said the revised ordinance would permit the dispensaries to continue operating in compliance with Amendment 20, but it wouldn't recognize the commercial businesses created by House Bill 1284. He said including dispensaries, grow operations and infused-product makers in the revised ordinance could put Steamboat at risk to legal challenges should voters ban medical marijuana.
In the event a ban fails, the City Council approved, by a 6-1 vote, the first reading of a medical marijuana ordinance that would take effect only if voters don't approve a ban in November. It would recognize the commercial businesses created by House Bill 1284. Council member Meg Bentley opposed the first reading of the ordinance.
The ordinance also would permit the operation of one more infused-product maker, bringing the city's allowable total to four. That would allow the business owned by Steamboat resident Lisa Kamieniecki to continue to operate. She said it has been open for more than a year.
The City Council had been considering a revised ordinance that included the commercial businesses, but backed away when the possibility of a ban was raised.
Steamboat Springs Police Department Capt. Joel Rae and Dr. Brian Harrington, of Yampa Valley Medical Associates, voiced support for a ban at the council's April 5 meeting. A community group has since formed to oppose medical marijuana businesses throughout Routt County.
Before the meeting, Bates sent a letter to the City Council informing them that D&C would sue the city if it banned medical marijuana businesses. City Council members didn't address any possible litigation Tuesday night.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com