City, county discuss medical marijuana

City officials said they were under no delusions that any ordinance they pass regarding medical marijuana would be perfect.

Still, they agreed they have to do something to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Craig, and so city and county officials met for a special workshop Wednesday night to discuss the surrounding issues.

The city already has a draft ordinance that includes zoning restrictions - such as no dispensary can be within 500 feet of a school or 100 feet of a residence - and a $1,500 application fee to pay for background checks and other city requirements.

Some officials offered suggestions for additional constraints.

Councilor Ray Beck suggested that the city limit the square-footage of any building used for growing medical marijuana to control the number of plants a person could have.

However, other city officials disagreed.

"This is still America," Mayor Don Jones said. "I have a hard time regulating what size building you can have (for a) commercial building."

The city does plan to add requirements for video surveillance cameras inside and outside a dispensary, and for business owners to keep 20 days of tape on file. Those additions came at the request of Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta.

Vanatta also asked the city to consider banning marijuana dispensary owners from delivering product to their patients.

Jessica Asplund, who helps run the Craig Apothecary, a marijuana dispensary on Breeze Street, said forbidding delivery could prevent some patients from getting their medicine.

The city did not make a clear decision about whether it would seek to ban deliveries, but Vanatta said his concern was public safety.

Several dispensaries have been robbed across the state, he said, and a delivery person would be a moving target.

Tuesday's meeting also was, in part, to address a recent state appellate court ruling that states those who provide medical marijuana to patients - known as caregivers - must do more than simply sell pot.

The State Board of Health met Tuesday to address the ruling and repealed its previous definition of what constitutes a caregiver, which did not include the court's interpretation. However, state officials did not create a new definition, which means there currently is no legal definition of what qualifies someone to distribute medical marijuana.

The Board of Health plans to meet again Dec. 16, but that will be after the City Council's last regular meeting of the year, and after its second 60-day moratorium on anyone opening a new medical marijuana dispensary expires.

City Attorney Kenny Wohl said the city probably could not legally extend the moratorium again, which means whatever ordinance the council passes, it likely will change as the state refines its marijuana statutes.

In the end, city officials decided to proceed forward with the ordinance they had with a few additions, the first being a line that states city regulations will meet all state requirements as they are amended.

County officials have not begun to address the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries, but they plan to soon, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said.

He added that he didn't understand why city officials seemed to be scared of what such businesses would do to the community.

"Medical marijuana, to me, is no different than going to the doctor and getting some pain pills or something over the counter," Mathers said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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