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City of Denver passes new Medical Marijuana regulations

In an open forum hearing, the hotly contested new medical marijuana regulations for Denver, Colorado were passed by a unanimous vote last night by the city’s council.

The regulations are what we’ve expected for some time, as spelled out in preliminary hearings .

The focus of the debate, from the spectator’s point of view, seemed to be directed at the 1000 ft distance rule. It states that a dispensary may not exist within 1000 ft of a school or child-care facility or another dispensary.

For those opposed to dispensary growth; the second most important concern is crime, while dispensary owners are challenged by the $2000 non-refundable application fee and the $3000 renewal fee.

Arguments and opinions were expressed on both sides. One pro-pot woman commented “if you think that your kids aren’t aware of pot, just because a dispensary isn’t within 1000 ft of a school, then you’re not being a very good parent.”

Most of the complaints about dispensaries were driven by the sheer number of dispensaries. “I drive five miles to work and I pass by six dispensaries.” One man was quoted as saying. It has been noted that parts of Broadway “look like little Amsterdam”, but the “no medicating on premises rule”, should keep that impression from reaching its logical conclusion.

Dispensary owners, some of which are located across the street from one another, are concerned about retroactive implications. It appears that the date settled upon for the rules to go into affect is December 15, 2009. Still, in this game of musical dispensaries, it could leave some “standing” when the smoke clears.

The owner of CannaMart, Dave Zislis came to the meeting, having recently won a preliminary injunction against the city of Centennial, as they tried to shut his store down. He, as well as others, warned of more law suits.

However, as reported by the Denver Post, Denver assistant city attorney David Broadwell, explained to the council that the ordinance was within the city's authority and did not violate the constitution.

 "The city is allowed to create regulations that apply to existing businesses, he said. He explained that legal prohibitions against retroactive laws are intended to apply to laws that attempt to criminalize past behavior rather than regulate it."

So far, we’ve avoided some of California’s pitfalls. In legal terms, the state can not use or enforce federal law to make its case. And now, the Denver city council is saying “We will submit to any new, stricter regulations the state may impose.” We’ll have to wait to see what that looks like.

Meanwhile, New Jersey joins the fray becoming the fourteenth state to legalize medical marijuana. Look for it in the next article from this column.

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