Residents angry about marijuana ordinance | CraigDailyPress.com

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Residents angry about marijuana ordinance

Council approves 1st reading, 6-1

ACET budget and other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 7-0, the first reading of the city’s 2010 budget.

Before the vote, Councilor Jennifer Riley said she would like the council’s vote to include a statement that the city is prepared to cease funding the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force unless some of its concerns about the agency are settled.

Riley added she does not think ACET should be shut down.

Several councilors agreed with her on both points, but said the city could stop funding ACET at any time without a formal vote Tuesday.

The statement about ACET’s future was not included in the final motion, and not voted on by the council.

• Approved, 5-0, contributing $10,000 a year from 2011 to 2015 to Colorado Northwestern Community College’s construction of a career and technical education center at its new Craig campus.

• Approved, 7-0, a $147,375 bid from Craig-based APH Construction to remodel the basement floor of Craig City Hall to make room for additional offices and staff rooms.

However, APH was not the low bidder. The lowest bid was submitted by Sound Construction, of Steamboat Springs.

Robert Ralston, who is the architect for the remodel project and also based in Steamboat, said it would not be ethical to award the bid to a person who was not the low bidder because the contract did not state the city would give a preference to local companies.

“You put me in a really rough spot with contractors and people who bid on your work,” he said, later adding, “You normally take the low bid. That’s the bidding process.”

Councilor Jennifer Riley said low bidders do not always get the bid for a variety of reasons, such as past work history. This bid was no different.

She added there isn’t a local preference policy because locals aren’t always considered first for every job.

The Craig City Council spent far less time discussing its medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday than in the past few months, but it heard far more voices.

Several local residents attended the council meeting and vocally opposed the city passing any ordinance regarding medical marijuana, other than an outright ban of all marijuana activity within city limits.

The council, however, ap­­proved the introduction of an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries with a 6-1 vote.

Councilor Byron Willems was the lone dissenter.

He said he voted for the amendment to the Colorado Constitution allowing cancer patients and others with serious illnesses or conditions to use marijuana as a medicine.

However, Willems added that he thinks the Colorado system has been subverted by recreational users and unethical doctors to allow anyone to use marijuana.

"I think this whole thing is completely out of control in Colorado," Councilor Byron Willems said, "I'm not going to put my name on anything that's going to condone this in our town."

Craig Conrad, a former Moffat County High School teacher, spoke against the ordinance on the basis that the city should pass an ordinance forbidding marijuana sales in Craig.

He said he could tell stories about students that would shock people.

The community can't control chewing tobacco, cigarettes or alcohol, Conrad said, and there's no reason to think it could control marijuana, even if it's restricted to medical use.

He added that if anyone in his family is injured in a road accident with someone who is under the influence of medical marijuana, he plans to sue the dispensary that sold the marijuana, every city councilor who voted for the ordinance and the state of Colorado.

Conrad and many others applauded one another each time someone spoke against the medical marijuana ordinance.

"We need to make a stand," resident Lynne Herring said. "You need to make a stand."

Those in opposition also repeatedly thanked Willems for his stance opposing the ordinance, even with the threat of a lawsuit for violating the Colorado Constitution.

The only person who addressed the council in favor of medical marijuana use was Jessica Asplund, who helps run the Craig Apothecary dispensary.

She said she agreed there is a problem with doctors giving out medical marijuana recommendations to those who don't need it, and added that she thinks those physicians should have their licenses revoked.

Asplund said the Craig Apothecary is not in the business of helping people procure marijuana through illegitimate means.

"We want to help people with medical need," she said.

Craig Mayor Don Jones said before anyone else spoke on the issue that the ordinance was not a solution, but a work in progress.

Craig City Attorney Kenny Wohl said ultimately it would be the judicial branch that finalizes medical marijuana regulations, not executive powers such as the City Council.

The city has until mid-December when its second 60-day moratorium expires, City Manager Jim Ferree said. It must pass something before then, which is why officials decided to proceed with the ordinance on the table.

The city has reviewed its legal liabilities surrounding medical marijuana dispensaries — which distribute marijuana to registered medical patients — in the past few months since the Craig Apothecary opened in the summer on the 600 block of Breeze Street.

The ordinance under review now includes several zoning provisions that restrict time, place and manner of operation for dispensaries.

Notably, any prospective dispensary owner must pay a $1,500 application fee to cover city expenses for criminal background checks and other processes. It also restricts dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school or 100 feet of a residence.