DILLON - Dillon's town council is saying no to medical marijuana dispensaries within town limits - for now. Council members cited concerns about abuse, need and lack of state regulations as reasons for not moving forward on approving regulations in voting against an ordinance setting out guidelines for dispensaries in Dillon Tuesday.
Councilmembers Don Parsons, Mary Forsythe, Ron Holland and Johnny Younger voted against it, and Mayor Barbara Davis and councilman Doug Roessel voted for it. Councilwoman Lucinda Burns was absent.
"It definitely may not go through," Davis said. "We really need to sit down with our attorney and come up with (the) next steps. ... From my perspective, I certainly appreciate the position that our council members took on it."
Because council members voted down the first reading of the medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday, Dillon must now come up with a new procedure for dealing with business applications if dispensaries aren't deemed acceptable within town limits. The council also extended the town's moratorium another 90 days - to Feb. 13.
"From my perspective, it's a legitimate and legal business," Davis said. "And individuals have a constitutional right to set up a medical marijuana dispensary. The issue isn't whether there is abuse or misuse of the drug among users and doctors writing phony prescriptions. We all know the answer to that. This isn't about the deleterious effects of the drug. We all know it has significant psychotropic effects. ... It was a spirited and intellectual discussion. It was good hearing everyone's thoughts."
After voting for approving medical marijuana regulations, Roessel said other council members had valid points about abuse and regulation issues. He also said he has concerns about litigation if Dillon doesn't uphold state constitution.
"From a business and legal standpoint, I voted for it on those grounds that currently our state constitution allows medical marijuana," Roessel said. "Until the state Legislature decides to address this issue, I think that we need to follow the guidelines of the Colorado state constitution, which is very limited on what it says about medical marijuana."
Yet Parsons said it's important to uphold the desires of Dillon residents.
"I talked to a lot of Dillon residents and voters, and I found not a single individual person who was enthusiastic about having a medical marijuana dispensary in Dillon," he said.
Forsythe agreed: "In addition to a host of other reasons, the Dillon residents that I have spoken to felt it was imprudent to fashion a business license ordinance that is inconsistent with federal law," she said
Other issues that council members had with approving dispensary regulations for Dillon's town code included "a number of intrinsic concerns about legality, unethical prescribing practices, and the chaos around medical marijuana dispensary issues in the state," Parsons said. He also said he had worries about potential criminal activity within dispensaries, questions about what it takes to be a caregiver, a concern about a secondary market, and uneasiness about other unknowns as reasons for Dillon to be cautious.
"We do not want to be identified as the pot capital of Colorado," Parsons added, pointing out that people actually needing medical marijuana can go to dispensaries located elsewhere in the county.
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.