Palisade OKs medical pot-growing permit

Couple's operation to take place near their downtown retail outlet

The owners of a Palisade medical marijuana dispensary will be able to grow and store cannabis in a room adjacent to their retail shop under the terms of a conditional-use permit approved Tuesday night by the Palisade Town Board.

Town trustees voted 6-1 to issue the permit to Colorado Alternative Health Care owners Jesse and Desa Loughman, who will lease a 400-square-foot space next to their business at 125 Peach Ave. for their grow operation. Trustee Penny Prinster cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Loughmans needed a conditional-use permit because growing marijuana, which is considered an agricultural use, is incompatible with the town-center zone assigned to the property on which they’re operating. The town-center designation generally allows civic and commercial uses.

Mayor Dave Walker said he felt more comfortable with the retail shop and grow operation being located in the middle of a highly visible, easily accessible commercial area “than if it was tucked away around the corner in a warehouse in an industrial area.”

Jesse Loughman told trustees that having one location to grow and sell medical marijuana would reduce his expenses and enhance security by not having to transport the drug from one location to another. He said plants will be grown in a sealed room that is separate from the retail business and utilizes its own ventilation system.

“No one will even know what’s in there,” Loughman told trustees

After the board’s vote, Walker asked Loughman to “do everything you say you’re going to do.”

Loughman insisted he will and hugged his attorney, Ann Duckett. Reached Wednesday, he declined to comment.

The hearing, which lasted about 90 minutes, drew supporters who implored town trustees to grant the permit to the 8-month-old business as well as opponents who expressed health and safety concerns.

“These guys are trying very hard to follow all the rules and do it right,” town resident Jeff Fields said, referring to the Loughmans.

But residents Sandy Cooper and Karen Bishop suggested Colorado Alternative Health Care tarnishes Palisade’s image and is located in the wrong spot in town.

“This is not what I envisioned Palisade to be,” Bishop said.

Sarah Catlin, executive director of Colorado Mountain Winefest, which has an office next to the medical marijuana center, called the Loughmans good neighbors and said they’ve run a successful business. But she said she is concerned about the health and safety of her employees and believes the building’s ventilation system needs to be upgraded.

Tuesday night’s hearing was even-keeled and lacked the emotion that has occasionally accompanied local governments’ public hearings on medical marijuana. The only outburst occurred when a man told trustees he believed they would likely face a lawsuit if they allowed Jesse Loughman to go into business, only to “yank that rug out from under him” by denying the permit.

Leaning into a microphone, Trustee Bennett Price responded, “This board is not going to be threatened. Don’t bring that up.”

Town trustees tacked on a number of conditions, including the requirement that the Loughmans control marijuana odors through the installation of a carbon-filtration system.


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