But commissioners carve out exception for existing grow site
In moves that hurt one marijuana business and helped another, Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday approved emergency measures that extend bans on the issuance of new licenses for retail and medical cannabis operations to new areas of the county.
The moratorium on medical marijuana endeavors covers the Woody Creek and Emma caucus areas, residents of which told the commissioners that they did not want such activities in their neighborhoods.
Ron Radtke, who operates marijuana shops in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, said earlier this month that he had spent thousands of dollars on plans for a medical marijuana grow site near Snowmass Canyon. The Woody Creek Caucus encompasses that area, and was opposed to Radtke’s previous plan for the same site to build pot greenhouses for both medical and retail.
Aspen attorney Lauren Maytin, speaking on behalf of Radtke, questioned the commissioners’ integrity for accepting the caucus recommendations two years after they adopted regulations for medical marijuana.
The rule adoption in 2012 came after extensive public outreach, which resulted in three communities — the town of Redstone and the Fryingpan and Snowmass-Capitol Creek caucuses — telling the county that they wanted to prevent various types of medical marijuana-related activities, Maytin said.
But the commissioners continued to press other caucuses to weigh in on the issue, leading the Woody Creek and Emma caucuses to vote — months later — against the industry, she said.
“Why? Why the urging?” Maytin asked.
She criticized the board for letting the caucuses control county policy and said there was no justification to bring up the resolution in an emergency fashion.
“How can there be an emergency?” Maytin said. “There’s no influx of applications. There is only one pending application,” that of Radtke’s.
To take the recommendation of two caucuses two years after medical-marijuana rules were implemented is “borderline corrupt,” she said.
Commissioners Rachel Richards and Michael Owsley took umbrage to that, telling Maytin that she was not helping her cause with such language.
“I don’t think the board is corrupt or deceitful,” Owsley said.
He said the caucuses shouldn’t be impugned for standing up and saying they favored the moratorium. Owsley also suggested that Maytin leave out the inflammatory comments the next time she addresses the board.
“I just think your approach was wrong and didn’t engender my sympathies,” he said.
Richards said she and her colleagues, in dealing with the new arena of legalized marijuana, have tried to be responsive to the industry and the public in a “fair, evenhanded manner.”
Maytin remained defiant after the commissioners passed the resolution 5-0.
“Truth hurts. But the truth of the matter is they are not being genuine to the applicant,” she said of Radtke. “They are absolutely having the tail wag the dog.”
The commissioners also approved, again by a 5-0 vote, an emergency ordinance that allows the Crystal River Caucus to join four other caucuses that told the county they want the moratorium on retail marijuana businesses.
The ordinance “brings the county’s retail marijuana licensing regulations into compliance with the recommendations” of the caucus areas, a memo from County Attorney John Ely to the board says.
But after hearing from Aspen attorney Herb Klein, representing Silverpeak Apothecary owner Jordan Lewis, and an Aspen teacher who said she supplements her income by working for Lewis, the commissioners changed the ordinance language.
Lewis holds multiple licenses for retail and medical marijuana grown in the Crystal River Valley, and Klein and the teacher said they were worried that the ordinance as written would affect Silverpeak’s ability to remain in business.
The amended ordinance allows for license renewals and for conversion of licenses between retail and medical marijuana, though such matters will still have to have a public hearing where the caucuses and others can weigh in.