Stricter medical marijuana zoning regulations proposed

November 15, 2010

Medical marijuana businesses in Colorado Springs are facing stricter zoning regulations under a revamped proposal the city’s Planning Commission will consider Thursday.

The city is trying to determine how many medical marijuana businesses would violate the city’s land-use code under the new proposal.

But an industry advocate estimates that up to 40 businesses could be forced to close their doors.

The proposed zoning regulations, which the Planning Department revised at the request of commissioners, expands the definition of school to include preschools, colleges, universities and seminaries.

Under the initial proposal submitted by the Planning Department, school was defined as kindergarten through 12th grade.

“As a result, approximately 200 preschools and eight colleges are being added to the previous mapping,” but the analysis is not yet complete, city documents state.

The revamped proposal also increases the buffer zone between a school and a medical marijuana center, or a dispensary, from 400 feet to 1,000 feet.

“The result of this change is also being mapped and analyzed,” documents state. “The expanded school definition and increased separation are expected to have significant impacts on properties within the city available for medical marijuana facilities and the status of existing facilities in regards to their ability to remain in their current location.”

Tanya Garduno, director of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, said Monday the proposed land-use regulations could put dozens of people out of work.

“So far, the 400-foot distance requirement hasn’t caused any additional crime, and there hasn’t been any sort of coaxing of children off the streets to come to centers, so the addition of 600 feet is really just putting good people out of business,” she said.

Garduno also said that including colleges and universities didn’t make sense because “the folks who attend there are definitely adults and can make their own decisions.”

Adding preschools makes even less sense, she said.

“If you’ve got children from a preschool wandering into a center, I think you really have to look more at the preschool as opposed to the center,” she said.

The Planning Commission is an advisory group to the City Council, which has the final say over the proposed zoning regulations.

Thursday’s commission meeting, which starts at 8:30 a.m., is on the second floor of the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle.

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