March 1, 2010
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May’s efforts to get rid of a medical marijuana dispensary in his neighborhood have caught the attention of a Colorado Springs city councilman who says he’s considering filing an ethics complaint against May.
“The DA was way out line and has gotten too personally involved in this issue,” Councilman Sean Paige said Monday.
“I think he’s brushed up against – if not crossed over – some boundaries that he should respect,” he said.
May said Monday he never abused his position and that such a complaint would be unfounded.
May said he identified himself as a regular citizen to everyone he contacted about the dispensary, from the owner’s landlord to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
“It was not my intent to unduly influence,” he said. “Certainly, that’s why I said I was a citizen. It was not my intent to intimidate anybody. It was my intent to file a complaint like any other citizen. That was my entire intent. If I’ve offended somebody, I apologize, but that was not my intent.”
Paige, who is heading a task force that proposed an ordinance to regulate the medical marijuana industry in the city, said he’s not sure where he would file the complaint.
“I don’t presume to know what constitutes ethical versus unethical activity,” he said. “Just from one man’s perspective, I think (May’s actions were) completely inappropriate.”
May said he followed the city’s process for filing complaints against medical marijuana dispensaries, which the City Council discussed during a meeting that May attended late last year.
May said he started getting complaints from neighbors and others after Pure Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary, opened in the Rockrimmon neighborhood where he lives.
“I got a lot of calls,” he said.
In January, May said he wanted to confirm the business was a dispensary and that he had the correct address before he filed a complaint with the city. He went to the business, but the door was locked, and a nearby business owner wasn’t sure if it was a dispensary.
“They were suspicious of it because of the little marijuana leaf and the fact that it was locked,” he said.
He said he eventually got in touch with the landlord, who wasn’t sure if it was a dispensary either and felt uneasy giving him the tenant’s name. May said he asked the landlord to ask the tenant to call him on his personal cell phone. Either that afternoon or the next day, he said he received a call from Kevin Donovan, Pure Medical’s lawyer.
“I again confirmed to him I’m talking as a citizen” and not the district attorney, May said.
Donovan has characterized May’s call to his client’s landlord as inappropriate.
May said he asked Donovan who owned the dispensary, but Donovan declined to answer.
“I said, ‘That’s fine.’ It’s not pertinent to a complaint,” he said.
After May made inquiries about the dispensary, officers with the Internal Revenue Service visited the business.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney said May “had nothing to do with the IRS.”
Filing the complaint against Pure Medical proved challenging, said May, who had to navigate the city’s bureaucracy to do it.
He initially went to the city’s zoning office, which referred him to the code enforcement division. He said he called Vice Mayor Larry Small, told him to contact the Police Department. He said he called police Chief Richard Myers, who told him he needed to talk to the City Attorney’s Office.
May said he didn’t know whether Myers takes calls from regular citizens.
“I would say that a normal citizen could pick up the phone and call me,” May said. “Of course, maybe the difference is that I’m an elected official.” The police chief is appointed by the City Council.
After talking to Myers, May said he talked to Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey, who referred him to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, which directed him back to the Police Department.
“In the end, I think I got treated exactly like any other citizen,” he said.
May said he “absolutely” supports medical marijuana. Dispensaries, however, are a different story.
“I have seen crimes because of dispensaries,” he said. “I’m seeing them being put up next to schools, which gives the potential to openly recruit kids out of our high schools.”
Call the writer at 476-1623