A zone of their own

Though most of the pro-medical-marijuana crowd arrived at Colorado Springs City Hall at 1 p.m., Tuesday, the city's first MMJ zoning guidelines weren't decided until after 8:30 that night. But it was worth the wait: Council voted 8-0, with Councilor Randy Purvis absent, against strict guidelines recommended by the city's Planning Commission.

According to advocates, 64 centers could have faced closure for being located within 1,000 feet of child-care facilities, seminaries and various other types of institutions.

But Council dropped the buffer back to 400 feet as it was in its initial draft, removed public and private preschools, as well as collegiate campuses, from the regulations, and struck the added requirement that a center only be allowed to use a certain amount of its space for growing. It also added a grandfather clause protecting all existing centers (except in residential neighborhoods), while saying those that closed in a particular zone would not be able to reopen.

"We're a 'conservative city,' but I'm just proud of the city, that instead of just shutting the door and saying, 'No, we're not gonna deal with this,' we are dealing with it," said Councilor Sean Paige, who co-chaired an MMJ task force that began the process of regulation in late 2009. "And we're dealing with it in a rational way that's respectful of people's rights and also respectful of other people in the community who are concerned."

Not all were happy with the looser regulations. A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs requested that churches, synagogues and mosques be included in the proposed 1,000-foot buffer zone. Also, UCCS administrator Brian Burnett, speaking for UCCS and Colorado College, made sure to mention the pair's combined $300 million budget when asking to be included in the 1,000-foot buffer.

House in order?

A Tuesday phone conversation with Department of Revenue spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait revealed that, two weeks ago, the DOR visited 97 centers across Colorado that, for a variety of reasons, failed to register paperwork certifying 70 percent of marijuana was grown in-house.

"We went and did checks on every entity that had not filed the necessary paperwork, and we're in the process of conducting those investigations," she says. "Everyone that was visited will be receiving a letter letting them know of our findings, and the expected outcome, and they will have the opportunity to respond."

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