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Trustee puts pot-shop owner in hot seat, Barber Drive folks riled

Locations: News Published

By John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

Carbondale trustee Allyn Harvey, at the board of trustee’s regular meeting on Tuesday, objected to what he termed a local pot shop owner’s “disregard” for city regulations and led his fellow trustees toward denial of that shop’s medical marijuana license renewal application.

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Harvey, and other trustees, also objected to the level of local ownership at the CMED medical marijuana shop, which does business as Rocky Mountain High at 66 Buggy Circle, which according to the town amounts to “one tenth of one percent” of the business in local ownership.

The remaining 99.9 percent, Harvey noted, is in the hands of owner Michael Weisser, who lives in Edwards, Colo., and has ties to the state of Florida, and who told the trustees he controls nearly 20 medical marijuana businesses around Colorado.

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Pointing out that the town had included a provision in its codes requiring some degree of local ownership of some businesses, though not specifying the percentage of local ownership required, Harvey declared, “I would argue that this is, in fact, flaunting the local ownership provision of the local ownership provision of the code.”

But CMED’s license application was not denied, after the trustees tied, 3-3, on Harvey’s motion to reject the application.

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Instead, the application will be reviewed again on July 8, along with a “finding of fact” drawn up by town staff and outlining the issues involved with the application, as a basis for the trustees’ ultimate decision on approval or denial of the business license.

Harvey, in his initial criticism of CMED, argued that Weisser and his employees have missed deadlines and filed incomplete applications throughout the company’s tenure in Carbondale, including a late application for its medical marijuana license renewal, which expired earlier this year.

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CMED majority owner Weisser, following a discussion among the trustees prior to the final vote, objected to Harvey’s characterization of the business and said to Harvey, “Don’t beat us up because we were late.”

He said he had charged CMED’s current on-site manager, Forrest Woolery, with filing that application, and said Woolery has passed that chore on to another employee while Woolery went on vacation, but the application was not filed on time.

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Ticking off points he felt were in his favor, Weisser said, “One, we never got any notice” from town officials about the expiration of the license.

“That’s not our responsibility,” countered Harvey. “You need to run your business and keep your license current.” Town staff and other trustees agreed with that assessment.

“But the point is, look at what we do for the community,” Weisser continued, explaining that his shop sells products that are “very high in CBD,” a compound found in some strains of medical marijuana that has been found effective in treating seizures in children and adults.

Plus, Weisser said, “we’ve been good citizens, good neighbors,” responsive to town requests regarding such issues as odors emanating from the shop and from the cultivation of its products.

“What occurred … was just an oversight,” he told the trustees.

Town Manager Jay Harrington informed the trustees that all three of Carbondale’s pot shops had filed late applications for license renewals, and that one of the local shops, the Doctor’s Garden, is currently closed for medical marijuana sales because its local medical marijuana license had lapsed, although it is open for recreational pot sales.

Half the trustees found Weisser’s arguments persuasive and were unwilling to simply deny the application (Trustee John Hoffmann recused himself from the discussion, leaving six trustees in charge).

The board, after more than an hour and a half of debate, voted 5-1 in favor of a subsequent motion by Mayor Stacey Bernot to delay consideration of the CMED medical marijuana application until July 8 and to direct the town’s staff to draw up the “findings of fact” regarding CMED’s compliance problems and other matters.

As a consequence of that decision, other applications by CMED, for cultivation permits and permits for retail marijuana sales at its store on Buggy Circle, also were put on hold.

The board also approved a subsequent motion from Bernot, asking town staff to draw up an “emergency ordinance” proposal that would require a minimum of 15 percent local ownership for pot businesses in Carbondale. As an emergency ordinance, if passed, it would take effect immediately, rather than wait for the normal 30-day delay so the new law could be published in legal advertisements in local newspapers.

The “emergency,” according to Bernot, is that as of July 1 the town expects a flood of retail marijuana business applications. That is the date that the application process, open only to existing medical marijuana business from Jan. 1 though June 30 of this year, would be opened to all interested parties.

Businesses who apply prior to July 8 would not be subject to the 15-percent rule even if it were adopted at that night’s trustee meeting.

Town Clerk Cathy Derby told The Sopris Sun that she has received 11 “letters of intent” from parties planning to apply for some type of marijuana business licenses after July 1, including quality-control laboratories and licenses to manufacture “marijuana infused products” or MIPs.

Other items

• In a different matter entirely, the trustees spent about 30 minutes listening to complaints from residents in the Barber Drive neighborhood, in the Crystal Village subdivision, about the deterioration of the surface of certain streets and the town’s need to engage in what residents termed “some serious repair.”

Neighborhood spokesman Michael Durant told the trustees, “Barber Drive has got to be the worst maintained street in Carbondale,” and that other streets in the neighborhood are nearly as bad. He pointed out more than one “constellation of potholes” and other problems.

He also criticized the board for using public funds for what he felt were less important purposes, such as building a new bike park (a $95,000 project to be built by the Dirt Sculpt company, under an agreement approved by the trustees on Tuesday); providing rent subsidies for what he called “our favorite non-profits” housed in the town-owned Third Street Center; and the placement of pieces of art around town, “half of which the town hates,” at a cost of roughly $12,000 per year.

“We’ve been overlooked long enough,” declared neighbor Judith Bouchard, who submitted a petition demanding action on the street repairs.

The mayor and town manager assured the complainants that the town had not deliberately ignored the Barber Drive area, and had been working on a solution to the chronically deteriorated streets.

“I’d just like to apologize for our oversight, and for what we’ve put Barber Drive folks through,” said Trustee John Hoffmann, while the board in general pledged to go to work on fixing that street and others in the near future.

• Approved relocation permits for The Center, a medical marijuana business at 60 N. Third St., which is moving to another building at 259 Main St. (the former home of the Floyd’s of Mayberry barbershop). The trustees also approved The Center’s application to add retail marijuana sales to its business, at the same Main Street address.

• Received an audit report on the town’s 2013 finances, which showed the town is in good shape regarding its internal fiscal policies and has approximately one year’s worth of reserves, meaning the town government could operate for a year even it no revenues were coming in.

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