Littleton City Council Meeting – Jan. 19, 2010 – citizen minutes

Citizen Minutes – Medical Marijuana Ordinance

Regular Meeting of City Council

City of Littleton, Colorado

7:00 p.m.                                                                                                                           Tuesday

Littleton Center                                                                                                     January 19, 2010

1.         Roll Call

2.         Pledge of Allegiance

3.         Agenda

4.         Minutes

a)         Minutes of Regular Meeting January 5, 2010

5.         Introduce New City Employees

7.         Consent Agenda Items  – No items

8.         Second and Final Reading on Ordinances and Public Hearings 

a)         Ordinance amending city code Section10-4-9 (Parking and Loading) pertaining to parking surface requirements as they apply to certain agricultural and industrial uses on commercial properties – Passed 7/0

b)         Ordinance enacting Title 3, Chapter 20 of the City Code establishing regulations and procedures for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries – There were several that spoke during the public hearing and I am certain that I do not have the correct spelling of their names but I will do my best.   

Janeen, owner of a medical marijuana dispensary (MMD) thought the limit of 20% of the floor space for growing was difficult.  The limitation would mean that she would have to outsource medical marijuana (MM) which would increase the cost of the MM and the purity of the MM maybe compromised.  She expressed her desire to have a safe environment and to provide a safe product for her patients.  She requested to be grandfathered out of the requirements in the ordinance. 

Bruce Stahlman asked her if she grew 100% of her product and she said she did.  She currently has 800 sq ft in her store and wants to maintain a small facility.  Stahlman asked her if she buys her MM from an outside source and she said she did but she knows the conditions it is grown under. 

Phil Cernanec asked how many plants could be grown in 100 sq ft and she said 200 to 300. 

Peggy Cole asked her how much floor space she would need to grow her product and she said 400 to 500 sq ft. 

Steve, Janeen’s husband, said they have an open door policy with Littleton government and law enforcement.  The number of plants that can be grown in a specific area all depends on the strain and what you are growing it for – to eat or to smoke.  He thought the 20% limitation was not an educated limitation.  Cole asked how much space he needed and he said 400 to 500 square feet would be ample for him but a 3,000 square foot home could grow more in their home than he could in his facility based on the 20% limitation.  He has a 1200 square foot warehouse that is currently empty just waiting for the outcome of the evening.  Stahlman asked him what he would do if the limitation was passed and he said he would look for a grow facility outside of Littleton and the prices of their product would go up. 

Dave Collin, who is not an owner, operator or a grower, said he was concerned about the signage limitation and that the ordinance was reaching too far.  There’s nothing obscene about the words or the plants.  He also thought it was unfair to limit the hours of operation and to regulate them any differently than a similar business.

Roseann Roeman opposed the MMD.  MM is a drug and should be dispensed through a prescription and a pharmacy.  She was also concerned about increased crime. 

Robert Van Diest, owner, told the council that they should be well informed before making any decisions.  He said each councilmember he spoke to did not know the difference between hannibis and hemp.  He said they were trying to make it as difficult as possible for MM patients and they should be ashamed of themselves.  He thought the signage limitations were unconstitutional.  Patients are not criminals – children were allowed into liquor stores but not allowed in a MMD.  There’s never been a death associated with marijuana and there are children that need access to MM.  He suggested that Council go back to the table and draft something more reasonable.  He also suggested that they extend the current moratorium and wait for the State to take action. 

James Van Diest, owner, supported tabling the ordinance to put more thought and guidance into it.  Hemp is good for health.  The average age of their patients is over 47 years old.  The restricted hours of operation make it difficult for some of their patients who can’t get there until 8pm because of their handicaps.  Cole asked him what would be better hours of operation and he said he would prefer more flexibility – 10 to 10 or a certain number of hours per day.  Stahlman said the ordinance stated that they could be open from 10 am to 7 pm 7 days a week and asked if he was saying that he had patients that could not get there during those times?  Stahlman asked him what strategy he would use for the signage and James said he would have to ask his attorney – they have a hemp center and they want to promote hemp. 

Melissa Van Diest suggested that the Council involve the owners of dispensaries in the formulation of the ordinance.  Cole said they had been working on this for a couple of months and businesses and individuals could have contacted any member of Council to make suggestions.  The Council did the best they could to take all the suggestions into consideration.  Melissa said she thought a discussion was different than a one-sided conversation among council members.  She thought they would have a better ordinance if dispensary owners had been included in the discussions. 

Connie Schnicker, employed by the Hemp Center, is a patient and an RN for over 40 years.  She has taken a lot of bad medicine and this is an alternative for her.  She was concerned about the ledger requirement in the ordinance. 

Paul Bingham said he and his wife voted for Amendment 20 as an act of benevolence and if he had known then what he knows now he would not have voted for this.  He supported the ordinance as long as the MMDs were limited to 4 in Littleton. 

Donovan O’Dell said this is a medical drug and not the embodiment of evil.  He thought citizens have the right to know what the public business is by signage.

Eric Carpenter, a partially disabled combat veteran, had been addicted to some bad drugs to manage his pain and asked the council to take patients into consideration. 

Laura Louden, owner who has been open for 8 weeks, researched her business prior to opening as she was concerned about the type of people that would come into her business.  She hoped that all cities would learn about what MM is doing for patients.  She did not want to be looked upon – in fact, did not like being compared to a liquor store. 

Brad ? is all in favor of people running their own businesses in America.  He applauded the cap on the number of MMD in Littleton. 

Claire Sewell is totally against MMD in Littleton. 

Stan, owner, agreed that regulations are needed and he followed most sessions of the council and he thought the public had the opportunity to be heard.  He does not agree with the ledger, the hours of operation, the growing cap but they needed clarity and that this should get passed.  The public needs to grow more comfortable with this  – we will be no more risky than a bank or a liquor store.  We can look at this again down the road. 

Stahlman asked him what he thought was driving the large number of cards relative to the time duration.  Stan said the announcement by the Attorney General and the elimination of the number of patients that caregivers can care for has made a difference.  Until then people thought they were better to go to the local dealer. 

Rick Acres, landlord to a dispensary, said his tenant has gone through an extensive remodel incorporating a lot of the requirements in the ordinance and he would like to see them reopened. 

Jake, owner of the business in Acres’ building, said he had sat down with Jim Woods and demonstrated that he was open on Dec. 22 and they should not be excluded from doing business in Littleton.  He expressed his desire to work with the City and abide by the laws in Littleton. 

Jerry Hill asked what happens with the dealers on the street with the opening of MMDs.

Marty Bolt told the council they had inherited a real mess.  Those involved in MMD will have to earn the respect of the people by their professionalism. 

Juanita, associated with the Masonic Building, was concerned about the safety of the young boys and girls that attend functions in their building when there was a MMD just a car width away.  She thought the building should be treated as a school.

Public hearing was closed. 

Council concerns and amendments offered were numerous – I am going to summarize.

Taylor expressed concern about the requirement for a scale drawing, the difference between the license for a liquor store and a MMD, could the dispensing be verbal, the signage should tell people what the business is before they go in, what to do with the ledger if a MMD goes out of business, and the odor controls especially if cooking the marijuana is done on the premises. 

Cole asked how much space is actually needed per patient – she did not think staff knows.  Suzanne Staiert said Amendment 20 limits 6 plants per patient.  Cole said the space needed to grow for a patient would vary depending on their needs. 

Cernanec moved to pass the Ordinance and Debbie Brinkman seconded

Doug Clark moved to delete the words “records search from CBI” on page 5, line 21.  Cole seconded.  Clark said the police should be able to get the background information wherever they think appropriate.  Motion passed 7/0. 

Clark moved to change 10% to 5% on line 41 page 3 and line 41 page 5.  The lower percentage would give them a better indication as to who is actually involved in the ownership of a MMD.  Cole seconded and motion passed 7/0.

Clark moved to remove 3-20-35 from line 24 on page 14.  (this is the provision of limiting the MMD to 4 in Littleton.) 

Cernanec said he agreed but wanted to avoid legal issues of limiting them to 4.  Cole was concerned that there were 3 MMD in downtown Littleton within 1,000 feet of one another and this would mean that 2 could not exist.  Taylor said he was going to offer an amendment to grandfather in the existing MMD.   Stahlman said based on his calculations there would be 62 patients per dispensary which does not account for patients that do not live in Littleton.  We desire to be fair but we are not under any obligation to expand capacity to meet the needs of other communities he said.  The need is to satisfy the demand not stimulate the demand.  He was convinced that 4 will meet the needs in Littleton. 

Taylor moved to table the amendment to amend line 24.   Cole seconded and motion failed 3/4 with Taylor, Cole and Jose in support.  Clark’s motion passed 5/2 with Cernanec and Jose dissenting. 

Taylor moved to amend section 3-20-35 from 4 MMD to 9.  Jose seconded.  Taylor said at the time they passed the moratorium 9 had met the zoning and licenses to be operational at their address.  He thought they were not on very solid ground when the license had been approved before the moratorium went into effect and they all should be allowed to open. 

Stahlman said he disagreed with the interpretation.  Taylor said the moratorium did not pass 7/0. 

Stahlman said the ordinance could be modified in the future and to add would be easier than to subtract.   

Clark said the intent of the moratorium was to stop the process and that included approval.  Taylor’s motion fialed 2/5 with Taylor and Jose supporting. 

Cole moved to delete the second sentence under Signage on page 10.  Taylor seconded.  Cole said their sign code is comprehensive. 

Brinkman said she would not support the change.  Blue Sky is doing quite well without the marijuana logo.  She thought blatant signage would support smoking marijuana which is a Federal offense.

Stahlman said Officer Mullin provided information that the secondary effect of MMD is persuasive – there are unintended consequences. 

Cernanec said it is tough – it is a First Amendment issue.  Clark said it wasn’t – businesses do not have the freedom of speech – it was given to human beings.  San Diego does not allow any signs. 

Cole said it was the character of the business and not the words on a sign that made the difference.  Motion failed 2/5 with Cole and Taylor in support. 

Clark moved to delete the first sentence on page 11 of section 3-20-21 saying it would be better for the MMD to grow their own.  Taylor seconded.  Cole amended Clark’s amendment to change the title of the section to Cultivation.  No second. 

Brinkman said she did not support the motion due to safety concerns.  Stahlman said he could see both sides of the argument and ask Officer Mullin which is more desirable.  Mullin said to keep it grown on site would be – it could be controlled by Code.  Motion failed 1/6 with Taylor the only one in support. 

Cernanec moved to change the wording on page 4 lines 38 and 39 to process the applications in order of becoming operational.  Clark said he did not want to debate the order they became operational and preferred to have the first 4 applicants processed in the order of the sales tax license issue date.  Motion passed 4/3 with Clark, Brinkman and Stahlman dissenting. 

Taylor said he would try again and move to change the number of MMD from 4 to 6.  I could not tell who seconded the motion. – could have been Jose.  Taylor said he thought they were subject to being sued and he wanted to know how many will be suing them.  Motion failed 2/5 with Taylor and Jose the only supporters. 

Taylor asked if the names and address of the patients will be required on the ledgers.  Staiert said the City does not want that information.  

Main motion on the Ordinance passed 6/1 with Taylor the only one in dissent

c)         Resolution of the City Council of the City of Littleton, Colorado, establishing the fees for medical marijuana dispensary applications and licenses – Motion passed 6/1 with Taylor in dissent.   

d)         Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Littleton, Colorado, amending City Code Sections 3-2-1 and 2-2-1, changing the name of the liquor authority to the licensing authority, amending Sections 2-10-1 and 2-10-2 to expand the jurisdiction of the licensing authority related to medical marijuana dispensaries and amending City Code Sections 3-2-16 and 3-2-24 to authorize the licensing authority to conduct public hearings related to the issuance, suspension, revocation or nonrenewal of any license of a medical marijuana dispensary in accordance with Chapter 2 of Title 3 – Brinkman moved to pass the ordinance and Cernanec seconded.  Taylor thought the Council should be the body to hold hearing on MMD since they are the elected body.  Motion passed 6/1 with Taylor in dissent.

9.         General Business

a)         Discussion of board and commission interviews – Feb. 23 was set as the date for interviewing applicants. 

End of my report.

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One Response

  1. Will any one be ready to smell a smoke smell on me?

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