Bill attempts to reconcile city and state law
Denver City Council gave the initial OK yesterday to a bill that attempts to grant some security to manufacturers of marijuana-infused products who must turn in an application that doesn’t exist by July 1 to remain legal under new state requirements.
Business owners like Greg Goldfogel, who create food that’s infused with marijuana, say they’re in a Catch 22 Ń they want to turn in their license application before the July 1 deadline, but such an application doesn’t exist. Council Bill 569 would clarify that a medical marijuana-infused products manufacturer may be considered a “locally approved business” when applying for existing local business licenses before July 1. Because there is no application, many infused products manufacturers have been “applying” by sending a formal letter to the city detailing their operation.
Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart acknowledged that the bill, which could pass on final reading on July 12 at the earliest, stops far short of guaranteeing legal immunity to infused products manufacturers who apply for a license.
“I wish it would, and I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think there’s any guarantee in this business,” he said. “We’re just hoping to adjust sort of to what the state did the best we can.”
The July 1 deadline is required by House Bill 1284, the medical marijuana reform bill signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Bill Ritter. Businesses involved with medical marijuana must submit their application by that time to be eligible to get a state license, which, along with a city license, is required by law.
The medical marijuana regulation ordinance passed by Denver City Council at the beginning of the year created a system to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. State lawmakers then separated the medical marijuana industry via HB 1284 into three kinds of operations Ń growers, manufacturers and dispensaries.
The city must now create a new permit system for infused products manufacturers. But it’s impossible to do so by July 1, so lawmakers are hoping that the city council bill considered last night could provide a little more security for the manufacturers looking to remain legal.
“It’s better than nothing, I suppose,” Linkhart said.
HB 1284 differentiates between medical marijuana centers and caregivers, who are protected by the constitution under Amendment 20. City law is based on the assumption that caregivers and centers are the same. Other notable differences between city and state law that city council must eventually address are:
Ą Location of grow operations Ń HB 1284 allows marijuana to be grown at a second location outside of the center, while city ordinance requires the marijuana to be grown on site or adjacent to the center;
Ą Location of centers Ń City ordinance requires dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from another center, which HB 1284 doesn’t address. However, HB 1284 requires centers to be located far away from drug treatment facilities and college campuses, which city ordinance doesn’t address;
Ą Licensee requirements Ń HB 1284 places more limitations on who can operate a center, including requiring owners to be a Colorado residents for several years.
Ą HB 1284 allows Denver City Council to choose whether they want to follow state law with the location of grow operations, centers, and requirements for licensees. But city council has no say on the July 1 application deadline.
Linkhart said yesterday that city council must put in “a ton of effort” to conform local ordinances to the new state law.
“I think it’s going to take subcommittee and task forces and meetings with the industry,” he said. “It’s very complicated and detailed.”
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