Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open, if you can

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 1:07 PM

The Pueblo Chieftain is reporting that Pueblo City Council has approved an ordinance that allows for the sale of medical marijuana — as well as a restrictive zoning ordinance that may make it hard, if not impossible, to do so.

Near 11 p.m., council voted for the zoning plan — which limits medical marijuana businesses to B-3, B-4 and industrial zone areas and also requires a 1,000-foot buffer from many businesses such as child care facilities and schools.

The zoning plan and buffers set such tight limits that Council President Larry Atencio said the city was approving a good licensing plan but defeating it with a zoning map that would discourage medical marijuana centers from complying.

The report states that Councilors were reluctant to approve the zoning ordinance, but relented when city staff said the ordinance could always be amended even post-approval.

From there, city lawmakers got out their wish lists, and went to work.

Kurt Stiegelmeier, assistant city attorney, said he shaped the ordinance closely on liquor store licensing. Even so, council wanted to make changes in the proposal.

Councilwoman Judy Weaver had a long list of changes — including requiring that anyone obtaining medical marijuana present a picture identification card as part of the process.

She also noted there are no limits in the new state law on how many times someone with a state-approved marijuana card can patronize a center on any day.

Councilman Ray Aguilera, a liquor store owner, questioned that, noting there are no state limits on how many times a person can patronize a liquor store in a day.

Stiegelmeier said he tried to balance the city ordinance with Amendment 20, the state constitutional amendment that legalized the use of medical marijuana for some health conditions.

Weaver noted that center operators have approached her and identified some of their patients as a way to reassure her, but she found that to be an alarming violation of patient privacy.

Stiegelmeier agreed that confidentiality should be required and the ordinance could be amended to do that.

Pueblo's oft-covered Medimar Ministry was not available for comment on this story; read about owner Tom Sexton here, here and here.

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