Future of MMDs in limbo

The decision by Fort Collins voters to ban medical marijuana businesses from the city could result in a strained three months for existing businesses and their customers.  The Larimer County Clerk’s Office is expected to certify Tuesday’s election results by Nov. 18. Once that occurs, the city’s 20 medical marijuana businesses would have to shut down within 90 days.  The dispensaries are likely to stay open as long as they can, said Steve Ackerman, president of the Fort Collins Medical Cannabis Association and owner of the dispensary Organic Alternatives.

“We will keep operating and we will keep serving our patients,” he said. “Our patients are coming in and they are all concerned about what’s going to happen.”  How the shutdown will be conducted by the businesses and state and local officials is not yet known, he said.  Organic Alternatives, 346 E. Mountain Ave., is the designated caregiver for about 300 state-registered medical marijuana patients, Ackerman said.  “Every one of them that has come in the last few days has said they really rely on us for their medicine,” he said.  After the Fort Collins shops close, patients may travel to Boulder or Denver to visit dispensaries to get their marijuana. Two dispensaries that sit just outside city limits in unincorporated Larimer County will continue to operate.

Another option for patients is to designate caregivers to grow marijuana for them. Caregivers can grow in their homes. Ackerman said he is considering becoming a caregiver, as are other dispensary owners and employees.  Ackerman said he is not concerned about moving all of the products his store has by the time it is required to close. Dispensaries may sell limited amounts of marijuana to each other.  Fort Collins officials have been meeting to discuss how to dismantle the city’s dispensary model, said Capt. Jerry Schiager, interim police chief.  The city plans to contact other municipalities that have gone through the process of shutting down marijuana businesses and learn from their experiences, he said.

City officials also plan to work with the state health department, which operates the registry of medical marijuana patients and caregivers, as well as the department of revenue and its Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division to ensure state regulations are met during the closure of local dispensaries, Schiager said.  State regulations allow patients or their designated caregivers to grow up to six medical marijuana plants.  City regulations allow up to 12 marijuana plants in a residence, six of which may be mature, regardless of how many patients live in the home.

Once a local authority issues a cease-and-desist order to a marijuana business, the dispensary may withdraw its state license application and move to another location where it would be allowed, said Julie Postlethwait, public information officer for MMED. A business also may let its license application lapse.  “After the 90 days are up, we will partner with local law enforcement to ensure that proper procedures are being followed,” she said.

via : Coloradoan

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