City leaders in Colorado Springs nix new rules on MMJ dispensaries

source: Pueblo Chieftan

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday rejected a proposed resolution that could have forced the closure of existing medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of residential areas and schools.

The council decision came during a tense, day-long meeting at which it also outlawed camping on public land. A standing-room only crowed packed the council chambers for part of the day.

“I need a joint,” a bystander said after the meeting ended at about 9 p.m. Although emotions ran high throughout the meeting, tempers flared during the discussion on the proposed resolution involving medical marijuana dispensaries, which Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey drafted at her kitchen table overnight after receiving little direction from the council Monday.

At one point during the meeting, Mayor Lionel Rivera abruptly called a recess when the audience became unruly.

During the break, Councilman Bernie Herpin got into a shouting match with Michael Lee, who owns Cannabis Therapeutics. And on the dais, Vice Mayor Larry Small and Councilman Sean Paige exchanged tense words.

Paige, who spearheaded a task force that worked for three months to develop an ordinance to regulate the city’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, called this week’s resolution a “shortcut” that threw a “monkey wrench” into the work of the task force.

The council had previously asked the task force to meet with neighborhood groups, law enforcement officials and others to review the ordinance and report back in March.

Small, who supported the resolution that was drafted this week in response to neighborhood complaints about a planned nearby dispensary, assured Paige that no one was trying to circumvent the process.

“I think the more you get involved in government, the more you know that you better coordinate your efforts at all levels of government or you’re going to create very serious, costly problems,” Small said, an obvious dig at Paige, who was appointed to a vacant seat on the council in October.

“The more I get involved in government, Mr. Vice Mayor, the more I’m disappointed with some of the people I work with in government,” Paige retorted, generating loud applause from the audience.

“Mr. Paige, if you want to get personal, I’ll be glad to get personal,” Small said.

“Go for it,” Paige said, prompting Rivera to call for civility among council members.

“Let’s not get into personal attacks,” Rivera said.

In the end, the council turned aside the resolution and decided instead to ask the Regional Building Authority to enforce the regional building code, which essentially puts a number of hurdles in front of any new proposed dispensary that applies for building permits, but leaves existing dispensaries alone, unless they become the object of complaints.

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