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Fort Collins to have a Bitter Valentines Day

News Posted Nov 20 2011

Fort Collins Dispensaries forced to close their door by Valentines day due to a ban based by voters. Business owners will likely try to sell their medicine under the pretenses of a caregiver after the shut down. 

Valentine's Day won't be sweet for medical marijuana businesses in Fort Collins.

That day - Feb. 14 - is the deadline for dispensaries to close their doors under a measure passed by city voters Nov. 1 that banned medical marijuana businesses and called for existing businesses to close within 90 days.

Results of the election were officially certified Wednesday, with the ban passing by 1,471 votes. That started the clock ticking for Fort Collins' 20 licensed marijuana businesses.

City officials are still sorting out the process that should be followed for stores to cease operations, said Ginny Sawyer, neighborhood administrator.

Staff members plan to update the City Council on the status of businesses during a Dec. 13 work session and to ask for direction on issues that have come up, such as whether a dispensary's existing grow operation may be used under a caregiver model, Sawyer said.

Another issue is what to do about businesses that are due to renew their annual licenses during the next 90 days. The businesses would have to pay a $700 inspection fee under the city's current regulations.

"Businesses are wondering if they have to pay that if (an inspection) is not going to happen," Sawyer said.

Dispensary owners have a lot of questions, said Dave Watson of Kind Care of Colorado, 6617 S. College Ave.

The biggest is whether grow operations could continue in commercially zoned areas and how that would fit in with state and local regulations regarding individuals serving as caregivers.

State regulations allow patients or their designated caregivers to grow up to six medical marijuana plants. A registered caregiver may grow for up to five patients.

City regulations limit a residence to 12 marijuana plants — six of which may be mature — regardless of how many patients live in the home.

“If we can’t grow where we are, we’ll probably end up growing in our homes,” Watson said.

Caregivers may petition to work with more than five patients, but the process is not clear and the state’s rules might be changing, Watson said.

“It’s really tough right now,” he said. “I want to do the right thing and be within the law, but there are a lot of gray areas.”

City officials say they will work with the state department of revenue and its Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division to ensure state regulations are met during the closure of local dispensaries.

At issue is what to do with marijuana plants and products that remain after a dispensary closes, Sawyer said.

A licensed dispensary may withdraw its state license application and move to another location where dispensaries are allowed, officials say.

Original article: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20111119/NEWS01/111190330/Valentine-s-Day-deadline-set-MMJ-shops-close?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CNews

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