November 4, 2010
A medical marijuana group has no plans to drop a lawsuit against El Paso County after the narrow defeat of a proposed ban on pot businesses outside Colorado Springs, an attorney said.
Denver-based attorney Jessica Corry said her clients have asked her to fight to make sure they will be protected from future attempts to ban the businesses in unincorporated El Paso County — either from potential ballot measures or action taken by the commissioners.
“Our analysis is: Will the county do this again?” Corry said.
The Oct. 4 lawsuit argued that Referendum 1A would violate the rights of 15 businesses and individuals that set up shop under temporary land-use regulations approved by El Paso County commissioners in December.
A judge ruled the question could go to voters, who defeated the ban by 331-vote margin in one of several razor-thin decisions Tuesday.
However, the outcome won’t be official until the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office sorts through more than 5,000 provisional ballots that weren’t reflected in Tuesday’s results.
The deadline for an official tally is Nov. 19.
A recount will be necessary unless the margin grows significantly as a result of the provisional ballots, elections officials said. Recounts are triggered for margins of 0.5 percent or less under Colorado law. According to unofficial results, the ban failed by a 0.18 percent margin.
El Paso County has allowed medical marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and manufacturers since adopting temporary-use regulations in December.
The county will revert to those rules and may consider special licensing and taxes in the wake of the ban’s defeat, assuming the results don’t change by the Nov. 19 canvassing deadline, said Commissioner Amy Lathen, who represents the area where the ban would have taken effect.
Corry, of Hoban & Feola LLC in Denver, one of three law firms representing the medical marijuana businesses, said she believes the merchants may be entitled to damages as a result of the attempt to put them out of business.
The fight in El Paso County may be one of many to come.
Steve Wind, a medical marijuana foe, said he will continue with plans to gather signatures for a ballot issue banning medical pot in Colorado Springs.
Call the writer at 636-0366.
Businesses still waiting
El Paso County Commissioners will wait to consider variance requests from two medical marijuana businesses wanting to operate in industrial areas in the county until after a possible recount of a ballot measure that would have banned such companies.
Representatives from the businesses agreed on Thursday, for a second time, to move their items to a later commissioners’ meeting, now Nov. 23.
The requests had been moved last month to Thursday, pending the outcome of the election.
The proposed businesses want to set up shop in areas that are not included under current temporary land-use regulations, said county spokesman Dave Rose.
-- By Debbie Kelley