Council passes medical marijuana ordinance |

Council passes medical marijuana ordinance

ATVs approved on 1st reading

Collin Smith

Craig City Council members turn their attention to Councilor Byron Willems as he makes his argument against passing an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. The ordinance passed, 6-1, despite Willems' concerns.
Shawn McHugh

Craig City Councilor Byron Willems said he thinks Colorado's medical marijuana system is deeply flawed and permits abuses by recreational users. During the meeting, he told the council that at least one area physician, whom he did not name, said his office is constantly asked for medical marijuana recommendations by those who don't need one.Shawn McHugh

Although there have been heated discussions in recent months, the Craig City Council's final vote Tuesday on an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits was relatively calm and quick.

The council approved the ordinance, 6-1, at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Before anyone stood up to speak, Craig Mayor Don Jones said he would limit the debate to council members only.

"We've discussed this for the last two-and-a-half months," Jones said. "For tonight, I hope I don't offend any of the audience members when I limit the discussion to the council members. … At the last meeting, some tempers kind of flared, and I hope to keep this meeting orderly."

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Councilor Byron Willems was the only councilor to vote against the ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.

Willems has opposed the motion for the past several weeks on the grounds that he thinks the state medical marijuana system does not work.

He asked the other councilors at their last meeting Nov. 10 to instead pass a motion banning medical marijuana dispensaries in Craig.

Several area residents attended the previous meeting to voice their support for Willems' position.

Although the mayor said he would not take comments from the audience, most of those who appeared two weeks ago did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

Jones added later that he wanted the public to understand the city's ordinance does not condone the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise.

"The people that have called me, and most of them have been senior citizens, I want to explain to them we're not condoning marijuana or drugs, we're trying to contain them," he said.

Councilor Joe Herod said as much earlier when he voted for the ordinance to pass.

"I feel like by voting 'yes' for this ordinance, we are, or I am, doing it in the best interest of our community," he said. "Right now, the way I read this, if we don't do this, we could have one (dispensary) on every corner of our town, and I don't want that."

The ordinance requires all medical marijuana dispensaries that open from now on to be in certain commercial and light industrial districts, most of which are along Victory Way or on the south side of Craig.

It also requires all new dispensaries to be 500 feet away from all child-care facilities, churches, city parks, schools, halfway houses, correctional facilities or other dispensaries. It also restricts them from being within 100 feet of a residence.

In addition to location requirements, the ordinance requires any prospective dispensary owner to pay the city a $1,500 application fee to cover expenses for criminal background checks, fingerprinting and other requirements.

No one with a prior felony conviction will be allowed to open a dispensary, according to the ordinance passed Tuesday.

The City Council also approved, 6-1, the first reading of an ordinance allowing all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on city streets.

The ATV/OHV ordinance must pass a second reading at the council's next meeting Dec. 8 before it becomes official.

Jones was the only council member to vote against the ATV ordinance.

"I guess to me it's still the safety issue," the mayor said. "It's a four-wheeler. It's a toy. … I don't think the streets of Craig are the place for an ATV."

The other councilors said they supported the ordinance generally and were impressed by the amount of work its proponents put into gathering the information they brought to the city.

The proposed ordinance requires anyone who wishes to drive an ATV or OHV on city streets to insure the vehicle for city driving and register it with the city.

It also includes requirements for safety equipment — such as headlights, taillights and a windshield or eye protection for the driver — as well as prohibits any vehicles that do not have four wheels, such as snowmobiles.

Since the last time city officials discussed the proposal, the age limit for riders has been raised from 16 to 18, and all vehicles that have been modified into an ATV or OHV are prohibited.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or

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