Breckenridge pot shop permits extended to July, transfers allowed

summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE – Existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the Town of Breckenridge get to keep their current operating permits through July of 2011 and now have the freedom to transfer locations thanks to a new law passed by Breckenridge Town Council Tuesday.

The ordinance made an exception to a moratorium on new permits, allowing existing dispensaries to apply for a new license should they need to change the location of their business.

The moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensary permits in Breckenridge will remain in place.

Passed earlier this year, the moratorium prohibited new medical marijuana centers, but allowed Breckenridge’s seven existing dispensaries to remain open. Council members said they expected the free market to eventually drive some of the dispensaries out of business, bringing the total number of medical marijuana centers down.

“In our discussions about the moratorium we thought market forces would come to bear, not landlord forces,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said. “We did a moratorium and didn’t think about landlord issues.”

Tuesday’s amendment came in response to a request for permission to transfer locations from an existing dispensary, Medicine Man, LLC. The local dispensary owners asked for an exception to the moratorium after their landlord decided not to renew the lease at their current place of business.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Medicine Man manager Frank Motts said of the council’s decision. “I didn’t think they were going to allow it to pass.”

The Medicine Man shop is currently open on Main Street in Breckenridge, but will have to close its doors Jan. 31. The landlord decided not to renew the lease after other tenants complained about smell, but is helping the dispensary find a new location.

Medicine Man is looking at possible new spaces downtown as well as on Airport Blvd.

“The medical marijuana (decision) was pretty easy,” Councilman Eric Mamula said. “These guys from Medicine Man … have worked well with the town, they’re pretty respectful of the law. So we thought … rather than just kick them to the curb, let’s change the moratorium ordinance to reflect that transfers from location to location were OK.”

The amendment passed Tuesday allows new permits to be issued to existing dispensary owners provided the old permit is handed over at the time the new permit is issued, the new permit goes to the same permit holder and the new location meets the qualifications established in the original town ordinance.

The original ordinance, passed several years ago, set specific boundaries on where dispensaries can be opened, banning them from first-floor locations in the downtown area and around schools and neighborhoods.

Tuesday’s amendment, passed on first reading, also extended existing dispensary permits through July, when a voter-approved state law will go into effect.

The state law allows local governments to issue licenses for medical marijuana centers, growing facilities and the sale of marijuana infused foods. With new legislators in both state houses, amendments could be made to the law during the 2011 legislative session. Final regulations from the Colorado Department of Revenue are also pending.

The state law does allow for and regulate dispensary location transfers.

SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at .

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