Fruita council OKs pot shops, but imposes restrictions

Medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed in Fruita but only in designated areas and under limited conditions, according to a majority vote by City Council members Tuesday night.

However, relatively little space within the city limits is left open given strict stipulations that require dispensaries be 1,000 feet from a school or a licensed day-care facility and 250 feet from residential homes and publicly owned buildings.

Dispensaries can open in Kokopelli Center, Fruita’s largest retail space, provided the businesses are set back from the perimeter.

Areas in the north and south ends of town in industrial zones may also fall into the acceptable areas for the businesses.

“My perspective is we have a very responsible and very restrictive ordinance,” said council member Bruce Bonar before the vote. “I see no value in waiting. Let’s stop waiting for someone to lead us around.”

Council members debated the issue for about an hour after members of the community voiced both opposition and support for dispensaries.

Council members Terry Moss and Stacey Mascarenas voted against the measure.

Mel Mulder, Bonar and Lori Buck voted in favor. Councilman Nick Kohls was absent.

Moss and Mascarenas said they wanted more time for council members to discuss the ordinance and a possible moratorium.

Leaders in cities around the Western Slope and state have been grappling with how to deal with an influx of medical marijuana dispensaries after voters passed a measure in 2000 legalizing the drug for patients with chronic and severe conditions.

Palisade placed a moratorium on the businesses, though one was approved before the moratorium set in.

Grand Junction this week placed a yearlong halt on any new medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, but the city has already granted 19 business licenses.

Councilman Moss said he has talked with hundreds of residents, and most said they did not want the businesses in their town.


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