City enacts moratorium

Posted 11/6/09

Taking heed from its neighbors, the City of Littleton is barring the establishment of additional medical marijuana dispensaries for the next three …

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City enacts moratorium


Taking heed from its neighbors, the City of Littleton is barring the establishment of additional medical marijuana dispensaries for the next three months to provide time for city officials seeking to draft regulations covering the facilities.

“I don’t think we want to become the medical marijuana capital of Colorado,” Littleton City Councilmember John Ostermiller said at a Nov. 3 council meeting.

So far, nine dispensaries have been approved for zoning and sales tax and are ready to open their doors, according to City Manager Jim Woods. Only one, Green Mountain Care on Prince Street, is open and functioning.

“We’re not just a bunch of kids slinging weed, so to speak,” said Green Mountain Care partner Mike Milos, who left a long-time career as a communications tower installer to open his dispensary.

“We’re here to help.”

After showing valid identification at the front door, patients are ushered inside Green Mountain Care’s waiting room, which mirrors that of a normal medical office.

There’s a couch, reading material, doctors’ offices and exam rooms.

A licensed medical doctor prescribes the pain medication. Blueberry, AK-47 and Sour Diesel are some of the most popular strains, according to Milos.

The shop also sells edibles like brownies, cookies and lollipops for patients who don’t want to smoke.

Patients range in all ages and ailments: 25-year-olds with broken backs; 80-year-olds with glaucoma; 40-year-olds with multiple sclerosis.

But each must suffer from a debilitating disease or chronic pain, said Green Mountain partner Howard Zall.

“If not, they don’t receive care,” the former corporate recruiter for Enron said.

Since June 1, Green Mountain Care has seen more than 2,500 different people with various chronic, debilitating diseases, according to Milos.

And many come back for weekly visits.

“When you talk to someone who’s had to take tons of meds for years and now they don’t have to, that’s what we’re about,” Milos said.

Not all are convinced.

“For years, I’ve gotten my drugs from Kaiser Permanente and I’ve never walked out of my pharmacy and high-fived anybody,” said long-time Geneva Village resident Jerry Hill.

Hill told councilmembers he has seen people celebrating outside Green Mountain Care across the street from his house.

“What we’re doing is legitimate business,” Milos said, citing a $3,600 check in sales taxes he recently wrote the city.

“We want to weed out the ugly element.”

So does the city, which is why Littleton City Councilmembers enacted the emergency moratorium at their council meeting, Nov. 3.

Without a moratorium in place, things could get out of hand, according to Councilmember Debbie Brinkman.

She likened the situation to “trying to close the barn door after the horse had been let out.”

Though Mayor Doug Clark didn’t support the moratorium because “the situation is not an emergency,” he thinks a set of guidelines is in order.

During a visit to Green Mountain Care with City Attorney Suzanne Staiert, the mayor said he saw several things that could potentially be regulated.

There should be no consumption of the medication on the premise, or after hours, he said.

There should be restrictions put in place related to land use and public safety, including where to locate the dispensaries, and how many should be allowed in town.

“This is big business and it could get totally out of control,” Ostermiller said.

It’s a similar debate playing out around the country as municipalities struggle to figure out how to regulate and enforce medical marijuana laws.

More than 10,000 people in Colorado are cleared to use medical marijuana, according to the Medical Marijuana Registry, and more than 100 dispensaries have opened.

The federal government complicated matters in October when the Justice Department told federal prosecutors that targeting medical marijuana users who comply with state laws was not a good use of their time.

The moratorium will only stop new dispensaries from opening in Littleton during the next 90 days.

Among other area cities to impose moratoriums are Englewood and Castle Rock.

“We want to weed out the ugly element.”

Green Mountain Care partner Mike Milos


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