Summit’s Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved regulations for retail marijuana businesses in the county’s unincorporated areas.
And, like their counterparts in many local municipalities, Summit officials opted for regulations similar to those already in place for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Essentially, the county decided to amend its medical marijuana regulations under the county land use and development code to allow the establishment of both medical and retail marijuana businesses, as well as the residential cultivation of both medical and retail marijuana, said Kristin Dean, principal planner for Summit County’s community development department.
The regulations — or a moratorium — must be in place by the state’s Oct. 1 deadline, in preparation for the first wave of retail marijuana business license applicants. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, existing medical marijuana dispensary owners can file for a retail business license. First-time marijuana business owners can’t apply for a retail license until July 2014.
“Just for the record, we (Summit County) don’t have any medical shops and we don’t have anyone who has applied for a retail license,” said Commission Chairman Thomas Davidson. “But, we’ll be ready when they do.”
Contrary to the trend among the county’s municipal leaders, Summit commissioners decided to allow all four businesses as approved under Amendment 64, including retail stores and product manufacturing, cultivation and testing facilities.
As a point of clarification, Commissioner Dan Gibbs asked whether all four businesses could be housed within the same structure. Although not expressly banned in the county’s proposed language, Dean said multiple businesses on the same premise are already prohibited under state law.
“It’s not unlike those people on the Front Range who tried to sidestep the ban on public consumption by establishing social clubs,” Dean said, noting that social clubs are restricted under state law. “So, if someone came to us and wanted to open a club it would be prohibited, unless we specifically added it to our code.”
However, the county code does permit medical marijuana dispensaries and retail marijuana establishments to be housed at the same location, as allowed under Amendment 64, so long as there are different entries to each business.
In addition to approving its regulations for retail marijuana establishments, the commission approved two resolutions appointing itself as the licensing authority for medical and retail business licenses in the county.
All future applications for retail marijuana businesses and medical marijuana dispensaries will undergo a Class 2 administrative review by planning department staff, which essentially removes the county commissioners from the evaluation process. However, any decisions made by the planning department can be appealed to the commission.