More than a year of study, discussion and hearings culminated March 15 when Arapahoe County commissioners unanimously approved the new section of the …
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More than a year of study, discussion and hearings culminated
March 15 when Arapahoe County commissioners unanimously approved
the new section of the land development code prohibiting any new
medical marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated Arapahoe
However, any product manufactures, growers or dispensaries
existing before the county’s first moratorium was adopted Dec. 15,
2009 can remain open provided they are in an area zoned for
industrial use as a non-conforming commercial use. There were eight
medical marijuana-related businesses in the unincorporated area and
all remain open.
Commissioner Susan Beckman said she felt the approved
legislation complied with the wishes of the voters, kept the
community safe and assured the neighborhoods would be livable for
all county residents.
She also noted that this now is a land-use issue, which moves
the enforcement responsibilities from the sheriff’s office to code
“Of course, the code enforcement will work with the sheriff’s
office in any case where safety is an issue,” she said “Also, we
will monitor this issue to see if we need to strengthen the law to
assure the necessary enforcement to keep our residents and our
Ron Carl, assistant city attorney, provided the commissioners
with the latest draft of the proposed land-use regulation at the
March 15 meeting.
He said, while much of the proposal remains the same, one change
in the current draft addresses non-commercial marijuana growing or
production by a registered patient or that patient’s caregiver.
Carl said the language allows the non-commercial operations in
all zoned areas but limits cultivation to six plants per registered
patient up to a maximum of 12 plants in one location. Outside the
residential zones, the growing or cultivation must not be within
1,000 feet of a church, residential school, park or licensed
Another restriction is permitted land use for marijuana by a
patient or caregiver must be in a secure structure inside the
building and not visible to the public nor can it cause odors,
heat, glare or light pollution that is detectable beyond the
building’s property line.
Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2000 to
allow use of marijuana for medical purposes. Colorado now is one of
15 states and the District of Columbia where medical use of
marijuana is legal even though any marijuana use remains illegal
under federal law.
But the medical marijuana issue in Colorado drew major attention
in 2009 when the Colorado Board of Health rejected a plan that
would have limited the number of patients a caregiver could serve.
Then, in October of that year, the U.S. Justice Department
announced it would not pursue cases against medical marijuana users
and suppliers as long as they followed state law.
With those barriers aside, a flood of individuals got the
necessary prescription to obtain a state medical marijuana card
and, quickly numerous medical marijuana businesses opened to supply
A number of local jurisdictions took steps to either ban or
limit the number of medical marijuana-related businesses. That
power was reinforced last year when the state Legislature passed a
law allowing local governments to ban medical marijuana businesses
completely, either by a vote of the people or action by the elected
Lone Tree, Greenwood Village and Aurora have prohibited the
businesses within those communities. Littleton set a limit on the
number of businesses allowed within the city. Englewood and
Centennial have a moratorium in place banning any new medical
marijuana businesses until new regulations are in place.
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