Routt County to consider medical marijuana moratorium | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County to consider medical marijuana moratorium

Commissioners to act today on medical marijuana moratorium

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners expects a public turnout today when it considers whether to impose a temporary moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses.

The commis­sioners said Monday that they need time to explore how 2009 changes in federal mari­­juana enforcement policy combined with a new state law providing for the regulation of medical marijuana businesses compare to the county's zoning regulations.

"The governor has signed into law a new bill that gives the county more ability to regulate," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "We'll discuss how we want to implement more regulation of medical marijuana."

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said the new law, House Bill 1284, appears to give the county wide leeway in deciding whether to approve medical marijuana growing operations, retailing operations and caregiver operations. However, she said the law is vague and that she wants more time to understand how the county's legal authority meshes with the bill.

"What we're trying to do (today) is pass a timeout," Mitsch Bush said. "Our statutory au­­thority has to do with land use."

The new state law comes against the backdrop of a statement issued by the U.S. Justice Department in Oc­­tober 2009 saying it would not commit resources to prosecuting medical marijuana suppliers who clearly are in compliance with existing state laws. The memo listed seven circumstances — sales to minors, for example — that would override that policy.

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Stahoviak noted that the moratorium would not affect a proposed medical marijuana operation already approved for a commercially zoned area of unincorporated Milner.

Aloha's, a business proposed by Steamboat Springs resident Chris Ward, already has received Planning Commission approval through a site review that imposed conditions of approval on the operator.

Ward would be required to bring the older home where he plans to operate up to code and provide parking and handicap accessible bathrooms, for example.

"He will be allowed to proceed," Stahoviak said.

The commissioners said they have received in­­quiries from al­­most a dozen more people interested in getting ap­­proved for medical marijuana businesses.

Commissioner Doug Monger said County At­­torney John Merr­ill is conferring with his counterparts across the state to gain a better understanding of how federal and state policy would mesh with county land-use regulations.

Routt County has only a few commercially zoned properties outside its incorporated cities and towns.

If you go

What: Public hearing on a proposed temporary moratorium on the issuance of more permits for medical marijuana providers and related businesses

When: 3 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners Hearing Room in the historic Routt County Courthouse on Sixth Street