The regulation of retail marijuana businesses in unincorporated Archuleta County took another step forward last week, when the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners held a work session in which potential marijuana regulations for the county were presented and public comment was taken.
The work session was held on April 15.
Although medical marijuana is currently allowed and regulated in unincorporated Archuleta County, the regulations presented last week cover both medical and retail marijuana, which were both approved by Colorado voters, in 2000 and 2012, respectively.
The draft regulations span 29 pages, with Archuleta County Attorney Todd Starr walking through the proposed regulations section by section at the meeting, accepting comment from the commissioners and public throughout.
If the new regulations are approved by the commissioners, the existing medical marijuana regulations would eventually be removed from the county books, though Starr suggested that the existing regulations may be left on the books to allow medical marijuana businesses to continue if the new regulations are challenged on a legal level.
Much of the draft document was presented with little to no comment from the public or commissioners, though several portions of the document garnered discussion, including what businesses would be allowed.
Going into the meeting, the draft regulations allowed for the following types of marijuana businesses in the unincorporated county: medical marijuana center; medical marijuana-infused products manufacturer; medical marijuana optional premises cultivation operation; retail marijuana store; retail marijuana cultivation facility; retail marijuana products manufacturing facility; and retail marijuana testing facility.
At the work session, however, commissioners Clifford Lucero and Steve Wadley expressed discontent with the idea of allowing medical marijuana optional premises cultivation licenses or retail marijuana cultivation facilities licenses.
Others at the meeting, however, including Starr and commissioner Michael Whiting, noted the opportunity for additional revenue that would come from allowing grow facilities not connected to stores.
“You will be leaving a ton of money on the table,” Starr told the BoCC.
“A ton,” Whiting added.
Starr and Whiting suggested that allowing grow operations locally would provide agricultural opportunities within the county, and would allow for the exportation of the product to other counties, instead of importing product from other counties to meet local demand.
Others in the audience, too, suggested that Lucero and Wadley reconsider their positions on the matter.
Another part of the regulations that garnered a significant amount of discussion was allowing minors in the businesses.
The discussion was brought up by Jason Werby of Pagosa Organic Therapeutics (one of the county’s two licensed medical marijuana facilities).
Werby said the shop currently has a reception area, with only those 18 and over allowed into the store, and asked if that setup would be allowed, with Starr responding that the regulations don’t regulate access.
“I’m concerned about someone bringing a child into these facilities,” Wadley said, adding, “Frankly, I don’t think that’s a place for a ten- or twelve-year-old child.”
Whiting noted that he agreed in principle, but said kids are allowed in liquor stores and doctors’ offices where controlled substances are kept, adding that the county did not need to be in the parenting business.
“But we sure are,” Wadley responded, with Lucero suggesting that minors can’t go beyond the waiting area and Starr suggesting that the regulations say operators should discourage minors from going beyond the waiting area.
Bill Delaney, owner of Good Earth Meds, suggested that minors not be allowed where products are displayed or sold.
Other portions of the proposed regulations discussed at the work session included hours of operation, how businesses would have to prove they met recycling requirements for used equipment, how refrigerated products should be securely stored and better preparing the area’s first responders to respond to calls at marijuana facilities.
Following the work session and comments received, Starr is now revising the draft regulations, which will have to be approved by the BoCC twice as part of the process to create a new county ordinance.
No additional meetings on the subject are currently scheduled.