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County marijuana ordinance in effect

Staff Writer

Marijuana businesses, both medical and recreational, are now legal in unincorporated Archuleta County under the governance of the county’s new ordinance that was adopted upon second reading Tuesday afternoon.

With the approval, the ordinance went into effect immediately due to one sentence added by Archuleta County Attorney Todd Starr prior to Tuesday’s public hearing (typically it would not go into effect for 30 days after the final publication).

That sentence is now a part of section 1.04.1 of the ordinance (which sets out the date the ordinance is effective) and reads, “Provided, further, this license ordinance is necessary to the immediate preservation of the public health and safety, due to the immediate impact upon surrounding residences, churches and schools from the attraction of transients, parking and traffic problems, the potential for increased crime and noise, increased safety hazards to neighborhood children, and the potential for overall deterioration of neighborhood quality, and therefore shall become effective immediately upon adoption.”

Despite being effective immediately, the county must publish the amended portion of the ordinance in The SUN (the newspaper of record in Archuleta County) before county clerk and recorder June Madrid can officially record the ordinance.

Other changes corrected section numbers throughout the ordinance, with each of those changed sections to be printed in The SUN, as well.

With the approval of the ordinance, the county will begin accepting applications for new medical and retail marijuana businesses on July 1.

Per the ordinance, allowed marijuana businesses are “medical marijuana center license; optional premises cultivation license; medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing license; retail marijuana store license; and retail marijuana cultivation facilities license.”

Section 3 of the ordinance further clarifies that grow operations, such as the optional premises cultivation license, are prohibited in the county except in connection with the operation of a marijuana center where the growing center and the marijuana center have identical ownership and where the operations are on the same or adjacent parcels for property tax purposes.

In presenting the ordinance, Starr estimated that the county’s first businesses running under the ordinance could be up and running by the middle to end of August.

Starr also stated he was proud of the public process that took place to draft the ordinance.

No one spoke in favor of or against the ordinance during Tuesday’s public hearing, though existing medical marijuana business owner Bill Delany spoke during an additional public comment session allowed by BoCC Chair Clifford Lucero.

At that time, Delany sought clarification on advertising limitations contained within the ordinance, stating that The SUN declared it would not run advertisements for marijuana businesses. (To clarify, The SUN will, indeed, run advertisements for legal marijuana businesses.)

Delany sought clarification on how else businesses could advertise, such as through brochures at other businesses. In response, the commissioners discussed other media outlets and methods of advertising, while Starr noted that leaflets at other businesses with proper permission would be in compliance with the ordinance.

The 35-page ordinance is available in its entirety on the Archuleta County website, www.ArchuletaCounty.org.

Later in the meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution amending the county’s fee schedule to include fees for marijuana businesses.

Those fees are as follows:

• Operating fee (including renewals with changes) — $3,000.

• Renewal without changes — $2,000.

• Transfer — $3,000.

• Location change — $2,000.

• Business name change — $500.

• Corporate structure change — $500.

• Modification of premises — $500.

In response to the fees, audience member Bill Hudson questioned if the fees reimbursed the county for staff time spent processing the applications, with Lucero and Starr both stating that the applications took “quite a bit of time,” with Lucero adding that the county did not want to overcharge.

Hudson suggested the county revisit the fees after a year.

randi@pagosasun.com

 

 

This story was posted on June 19, 2014.