60 cultivation centers appear on city map
A map marking what are supposed to be secret locations of 60 warehouses and other buildings where medical marijuana is grown in Boulder has accidentally been made public by the city.
State law prohibits local governments from disclosing the location of so-called cultivation centers, and state lawmakers have exempted records that contain identifying information about the sites from the Colorado Open Records Act out of fear that would-be thieves might target large growing operations.
But Boulder officials say an oversight led them to publish the map on the city's Web site, bouldercolorado.gov, on Dec. 29 as part of an agenda briefing sent to the Boulder City Council. The map shows the locations of the 60 cultivation centers, 45 dispensaries and 12 product manufacturing sites that have applied for a medical marijuana business license from the city.
The map shows clusters of cultivation centers in Gunbarrel, near Lookout Road and 63rd Street, and in north Boulder along Broadway and Lee Hill Drive. But the highest concentration of growing operations is in east Boulder, near Arapahoe Avenue and 55th Street, and along Foothills Parkway near Pearl Parkway.
Kathy Haddock, Boulder's senior assistant city attorney who advises the council on medical marijuana issues, said Thursday that the map never should have been published.
"The state law requires the city, and all governments, to keep the location of grow locations confidential," she said. "It's something we should have pulled out."
Haddock said the map would be removed from the city's Web site.
Steven Zansberg, an attorney who represents the Camera and is an expert in open records law, said it's not likely that the city would face any penalties for the slip.
The timing of the incident is fortuitous in that the council will decide at its Jan. 18 meeting whether Boulder should circumvent the open records act exemption for cultivation centers by requiring applicants for medical marijuana business licenses to waive their right to privacy.
The council could force all growing centers to sign such a waiver as a condition of receiving a city-issued business license.
But the city attorney's office is split on that idea.
Haddock said some staffers support making the locations of growing operations public because Boulder "typically wants things open."
"My understanding of Boulder's philosophy in general is to provide for openness wherever possible," she said.
But City Attorney Tom Carr is recommending against requiring growers to sign a waiver.
"My concern is based on my experience with illegal grow operations," he said. "What happens at times is people try to rob them because there's money and pot there."
Carr said he understands why the state Legislature would want to prevent those types of robberies and that Boulder should "honor that while the state works this out."
He said lawmakers might take a second look at the rule later this year.
Dustin Shroyer, owner of the Root Organic MMC dispensary, at 5420 Arapahoe Ave., said keeping the location of his growing warehouse in Boulder a secret is important to his business -- which offers a combination of marijuana products and a spa with yoga, acupuncture and "lifestyle coaching."
"It's important to us just for security purposes," he said.
But Shroyer said he isn't overly concerned about the accidental disclosure because he considers his warehouse "so secure that anybody who would try to break in would have the police surround them instantly."
He said he has security cameras and extra layers of security doors, and he doesn't keep telltale signs of what's inside -- including bags of dirt or compost -- sitting outside the warehouse.
Still, he said, people who are motivated enough could probably figure out on their own pretty quickly where people are growing marijuana.
"I think anybody with any knowledge could scout any industrial warehouse and find some," he said.
Shroyer said he's not upset with the city over the accidental disclosure because city officials and medical marijuana business owners are still learning how to deal with one another.
"It's very important to let them work the bugs out of their system," he said. "Hopefully, they'll just grow from that and learn from it."
By Heath Urie Camera Staff Writer
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.