Fort Collins medical marijuana ban temporarily on hold

Some Fort Collins medical marijuana businesses have received a temporary re-prieve from a voter-approved ban on marijuana dispensa-ries and growing operations. District Court Judge Thomas French issued a temporary restraining order directing city and state officials to not enforce provisions of the ban until a hearing can be conducted on a lawsuit challenging its legality.

The ban is scheduled to go into effect Feb. 14. In November, city voters approved an ordinance that prohibits medical marijuana businesses following a contentious election campaign. Six local businesses filed a lawsuit over the ban last week. A hearing on the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Larimer County Justice Center, 201 LaPorte Ave., in Courtroom 5C, according to court records.

The lawsuit claims the ban violates the Colorado Constitution and would irreparably harm the businesses owners by taking away their livelihoods. The owners invested heavily in the businesses and assumed they would be able to operate under the auspices of state and local laws, according to the complaint. The suit names the city manager, city clerk and the entire City Council as defen-dants. It also names Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, District Attorney Larry Abrahamson and the Colorado Department of Revenue as defendants.

Under the ban and state regulations, marijuana businesses have until 7 p.m. Feb. 14 to cease operations. They have until midnight that day to remove all marijuana products in accordance with state and local laws. Any material that is left would be confiscated and destroyed. At one time the city had 20 licensed marijuana businesses. At least seven have closed their doors since the ban was approved.

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