Breckenridge amends rules for medical marijuana personal caregivers | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge amends rules for medical marijuana personal caregivers

Greg Ellison
gellison@summitdaily.com

Primary caregivers who grow medical marijuana for patients in Breckenridge will soon be required to register locally and will be limited on their number of patients and plants.

Based on pending changes to state regulations, the Breckenridge Town Council approved amendments to the town's code regarding primary caregiver licensing at its meeting on Dec. 8.

Breckenridge Police chief Shannon Haynes said the amended rules wouldn't be enforced until January 2017. The reasoning behind local registration is to help police keep track of the location of local grows.

"It gives us a better idea how many people in the community are caregivers," she said.

The amendments also change language within the code from "residential" to "regulated structure," which expands the town's ability to enforce marijuana regulations from only residential areas to include commercial spaces, storage units and any other unregulated spaces.

When the codes were first established the focus was on home grows. On occasion there have been home growers who followed less than safe practices regarding electricity, which presents public safety issues, Haynes said.

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"We had some issues in the past with grows in properties," she explained. "People were really lucky there weren't fires."

As law enforcement has gained experience with marijuana cultivation, Haynes said it became obvious there were small-scale operations in structures other than residences.

In addition to the newly required local licensing, area caregivers were already restricted to a five-patient limit and are prohibited from growing, possessing, processing or transporting more than a dozen plants within a residential regulated structure.

The changes to the town's marijuana regulations will also allow Breckenridge Police officers to more easily investigate marijuana violations, issues citations, while also initiating suspensions and revocations.

The new regulations also establish new limitations on the amount of marijuana and marijuana products individuals can possess. Persons age 21 and older can have up to 8 ounces of marijuana or 16 ounces of marijuana in solid forms, such as edibles.

"It's important for folks to know there has been a bit of change on how much product they can have in their house," she said.

The town's amended marijuana regulation require enclosed and locked cultivation areas if there are residents under 21-years-of-age, and also prohibits marijuana from being cultivated openly in an area that is located outside of the exterior walls of the residence.

The regulations also establish square footage limits on the area used to grow, process or transport marijuana in residential regulated structures. Detached single-family units are limited to 150 square feet, while any other residential structures are limited to 100 square feet. Marijuana cultivation is also restricted within any common areas of real property.

The personal caregiver regulations also prohibit grows in regulated structures from being seen by common visual observation. Excessive noise from exhaust fans, light pollution or excessive foot or automobile traffic is also restricted.

Also if the caregiver does not own the property where they grow, written permission from the landowner is required. The rules also ban the use of chemicals to enhance or extract THC or other cannabinoids from marijuana and also prohibit the use of compressed or flammable gas as a solvent for extraction.

Haynes stressed the goal of regulations is to ensure small marijuana grows are operated in a safe manner that does not endanger public health and safety, or create a public nuisance.

Town Councilman Gary Gallagher said the town's marijuana ordinance was amended to keep polices and protocols in line with the state.

"We're trying to keep things honest and not let somebody game the system," he said. "I think at the end of the day any community, as well as the state, the more they can be on the same page it will be easier for the community to monitor and control it."

Haynes said the regulations, and especially limits on amounts of cannabis stored in a residence, are examples of the state and local jurisdictions attempting to abide requests from the federal government to prevent Colorado grown marijuana from being exported to other states.

Noting that federal enforcement can be an issue without proper regulations, Gallagher said the revisions are an attempt to remove potential grey areas. Although the feds have said they wouldn't interfere with states that establish firm guidelines for legalized cannabis, which could change at any moment if policies are not followed, Gallagher said Colorado could get an unexpected visit from the DEA.

"Don't be surprised if we show up one day," he said.

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