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Lafayette passes rules for medical marijuana

Daily Dose 2011-04-06 0 comments

By John Aguilar Camera Staff Writer

Posted: 04/05/2011 11:26:38 PM MDT
LAFAYETTE — The City Council passed a final set of regulations for medical marijuana retail shops and growing operations in town Tuesday night, ending a two-month process that at one point came within a single vote of placing an outright ban on the controversial facilities.Lafayette`s new rules, which passed unanimously but require one more final vote, will restrict medical marijuana centers to a 78-acre district that primarily lies along South Boulder Road, between South Public Road and U.S. 287.

No dispensaries are permitted within 1,000 feet of schools, hospitals or other medical marijuana centers; within 500 feet of residential areas and day-care centers; or within 800 feet of U.S. 287 and Colo. 7.

And no more than five lots containing infused product manufacturing or marijuana growing operations are allowed in an industrial area in the southeast part of the city.

On the residential side, Lafayette`s ordinance limits caregivers or patients to 12 marijuana plants per household and prohibits outdoor growing operations.

The new zoning rules will force the two existing pot shops in the city — Ka-Tet Wellness Services, at 489 N. U.S. 287, and 420Highways, at 201 E. Simpson St. — to either move or close down by the end of the year.

Alison Neeld, Ka-Tet`s owner, said she found the whole process of rule-making by the city “frustrating.”

“I feel that three people on the council have researched the issue, and that`s it,” she said. “There`s a lack of understanding on this complex issue.”

Broomfield, Erie and Superior have banned medical marijuana centers, while Louisville and Boulder allow them. Longmont hasn`t yet made a decision on the matter.

Lafayette loosened some of its initial proposed regulations — like hours of operation and the numbers of plants caregivers and patients could possess at their residences — during the eight weeks it grappled with the issue.

But on the question of whether to permit dispensaries to locate within 800 feet of Lafayette`s two major highway corridors, the council didn`t budge.

The city`s planning director, Phillip Patterson, told the council Tuesday that removing the highway buffer would open up an additional 149 acres for dispensaries and another four acres for medical marijuana growing and infused products facilities in the city.

In the city`s newly drawn medical marijuana district, up to five dispensaries would fit, depending on where each of them locates.

Neeld, who is in the preliminary stages of signing a lease on a location in the district, said she will probably have to spend close to $50,000 to move her business and comply with strict new ventilation and security requirements.

She said that`s a big deal.

“When it affects your business, it`s hard,” Neeld said.

She also criticized the city for inserting last-minute language into the ordinance that disallows people from growing marijuana outdoors.

Neeld said the part of the city code affecting possession by caregivers and patients will invite legal challenges from those who claim that the state constitution grants them the right to grow what they need to manage chronic pain or other medical problems.

After the vote, Lafayette Mayor Frank Phillips congratulated city staff members for crafting and refining a set of rules that he said had the potential to be “divisive.”

“We have managed to produce something that is reasonable,” he said.

Read more: Lafayette passes rules for medical marijuana – Boulder Daily Camera