FLORENCE, COLORADO — Claiming the city wanted to be prepared, the Florence City Council approved an ordinance to place a 90-day moratorium on the use of property in city limits to dispense medical marijuana and paraphernalia.After Colorado adopted Amendment 20, which made it legal for people to obtain, possess, cultivate, grow, use and distribute marijuana for medical purposes, the city decided to be prepared.
“In terms in trying to regulate the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, we don’t have any language regulations in place,” said City Attorney Bryan Fredrickson Monday during its regular meeting. “Obviously, these questions arise on whether the city might want the dispensaries close to a school, for example, or a child-care facility.”
The ordinance will not permanently prohibit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes because the amendment to the constitution allows it.
“Hopefully, we can jump on this relatively quickly and decide what kind of language we might want or other regulatory language in the event someone comes to town” to start a dispensary, Fredrickson said. “As far as I know, it’s not an issue right now.”
Councilman Charles Giebler said he opposed the ordinance as written.
“I believe that ordinance 16-2009 is jumping the gun,” he said. “We’ve had no interest in anyone doing it here. I believe the city council needs to study and implement appropriate land use and regulatory provisions regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, which I believe we’re going to find out will be the same as any pharmacy. I don’t see this happening in Florence anytime soon. We probably should get on it, but to pass an ordinance that just seems unfriendly to the sick and impaired, it doesn’t seem right to me.”
It is reported the No. 1 abuse of drugs are prescription drugs.
Councilman Joe Caruso reported a story of a family, which already is licensed as a dispensary.
“This would make them a criminal in the City of Florence,” he said.
When Caruso asked whether Fox Drug could dispense medical marijuana, Fredrickson said that pharmacies cannot, because they are regulated by federal law.
“That’s why this has become a Colorado problem, because the Colorado amendment passed in contradiction to federal law,” he said. “This ordinance does not prevent them from dispensing it to the patient. This is more of a moratorium to prevent commercial operations” in certain zones.
Councilman Roger McFaul said rather than impose an ordinance, it would be better to take time to come up with an ordinance to regulate it.
Councilman Ron Hinkle said he could see both sides.
“I somewhat agree that it would be a benefit to have something in place before a situation develops,” he said. “We can say that hasn’t happened in Florence yet. But we don’t know about a situation. Things can change in a heartbeat. They can change overnight.”
Pro Tem Mayor Paul Villagrana said the moratorium gives the city a chance to determine the regulations it would like to pursue.
After adding 90 days to the ordinance, the council approved the temporary moratorium.
Following the vote, Florence City Planner Don Moore has written a first draft to determine how to proceed.
“We’re treating these dispensaries as retail sales outlets and recommending the zone be changed in the commercial,” he said. “We would recommend the zoning would be changed in the commercial zone district to allow the dispensary by special use only. We’d like to take downtown out of that because there is very little parking. These things could use a lot of parking.”
The Florence Planning Commission will host a public hearing on the zoning of marijuana dispensaries at its November meeting.
The way it is written now “not only can you dispense, but you can use it on premises, which the planning commission may chose to remove. Some communities have,” Moore said.