New medical marijuana law clear only in cities with bans

The effect of new medical-marijuana regulations that go into effect today depends on whether local governments even intend to use them.

That’s because the first thing the new law requires is for localities to decide whether they even want medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions.

Under the new law, local governments have the option of banning the dispensaries outright or placing measures on their next ballots asking voters to do that.

In jurisdictions that approve such bans, however, it won’t mean the complete elimination of places to go to get the herbal weed.

The new regulations allow small caregivers — marijuana growers who serve a limited number of patients — to operate as they have in the past. Although such caregivers are limited to serving no more than five patients, they can be licensed by the state to serve more people in areas that ban dispensaries, if they can show a need.

Some cities, such as Greeley and Superior, have enacted permanent bans, while others, such as Colorado Springs, have placed the question on their next ballots.

Meanwhile, other communities, such as Montrose, have extended their moratoriums on new dispensaries while local lawmakers consider how they plan to address the issue.

Communities in the Grand Valley are planning to meet to discuss whether to prohibit dispensaries, place a ban on the ballot or allow them to operate under the new law.

“Our strategy was not to try and come up with, as a council, a preferred option until we’ve had a chance to talk with all of the community stakeholders, and that would include current and potential medical-marijuana-dispensary owners, the medical community, citizens in general and law enforcement,” Grand Junction Mayor Teresa Coons said. “Then we’ll make a decision about what direction we think we want to go, and that would be presented in a public council meeting.”

The marijuana law is one of 29 new laws that fully or partially go into effect today. They include:

Two new laws that allow trailers that weigh less than 16,000 pounds, including campers and multipurpose trailers, to be exempt from the state’s controversial late-vehicle-registration fees. Instead of paying up to $100 in late fees, owners of such trailers would be subject to a maximum $10 fine.

A law requiring that motorists traveling in the left lane of Interstate 70 must drive no slower than 10 mph under the posted speed limit.

A law prohibiting health insurance companies from setting premiums based on a patient’s gender.


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