Vote comes despite planning commission's advice to regulate the businesses
Superior on Monday became the first municipality in Boulder County to ban medical marijuana.
Town leaders in Superior passed an ordinance Monday evening prohibiting any medical-marijuana facility from setting up shop in town, becoming the first municipality in Boulder County to ban the dispensaries outright.
Trustees voted 6-to-0 in favor of the ban, which will take effect in about a month. Trustee Debra Williams was absent.
Superior appears to be the state’s second town or city to permanently ban medical marijuana dispensaries since the Colorado Legislature passed a law last month regulating the industry and allowing municipalities to outlaw the facilities. Vail was the first to enact a ban on June 1.
Mayor Andrew Muckle said Superior, which doesn’t have any dispensaries currently in operation, could always revisit the issue later if it’s apparent that residents want them.
“If we permit something, it’s very difficult to go back,” he said.
Medical marijuana advocates reacted immediately to Superior’s decision.
“It’s my impression that the leaders of Superior are passing poor public policy,” said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado. “I think it’s going to hurt the sickest members of their community.”
He said the town is inviting “costly litigation” from those who believe that the state’s decision to allow towns and cities to ban dispensaries is unconstitutional.
A decade ago, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, which allows people with debilitating medical conditions to consume marijuana. The amendment to the state constitution stipulated that caregivers could provide medicinal pot to patients but didn’t speak to the legality of dispensaries, which blossomed statewide this year after the Obama administration said it wouldn’t use federal law to pursue dispensary owners.
It is estimated there are now 1,100 dispensaries statewide and about half are not expected to survive the stricter regulations at the state level. Gov. Bill Ritter signed the legislation into law last week.
“Patients have the right to access medicine at a storefront just like anyone else trying get medicine,” Vicente said, lambasting Superior’s vote. “It’s like banning pharmacies.”
With two dispensaries open across U.S. 36 in Louisville, Mayor Muckle said, Superior’s ban is hardly restricting residents’ abilities to obtain medical marijuana.
Superior has long been aggressive in its opposition to dispensaries, being the first in the state to ban them last fall. The town rescinded the ban a few months later after determining that it might be on shaky legal ground without clear regulations from the state. It imposed a moratorium instead.
Monday’s vote was in sharp contrast to a decision last month by the town’s planning commission to oppose a ban. The commission felt that dispensaries should be permitted and regulated in Superior because they are already allowed under state law.
“I would just have to disagree with them on this issue,” said Trustee Elia Gourgouris, noting that several of his constituents had contacted him urging him to vote for the ban.
No members of the public spoke out on the issue Monday evening.
Muckle seemed to recognize the import of the board’s vote, acknowledging that Superior is once again on the “cutting edge” of the issue.
A number of other Colorado municipalities will likely follow in Superior’s footsteps. Greenwood Village is in the process of approving a dispensary ban. Aurora plans to put the issue of a ban up to a vote of its residents in November.
Several town and cities in Boulder County — including Louisville, Lafayette, Erie, and Longmont — have put in place moratoriums on new dispensaries and are in the midst of trying to figure out what kind of regulations to pass.
It’s too soon to say whether any of them are planning to introduce their own bans.
John Aguilar, Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 06/14/2010 08:29:13 PM MDT