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Commissioners OK 24-month Medical Marijuana Licensing Moratorium

In the aftermath of approving a Special Review Use for medical marijuana manufacturing in the former Apple Shed at Penrose, the Fremont County Board of Commissioners said the message was clear from Penrose residents that ‘enough is enough’.   County Commission Chairman Ed Norden said the commissioners heard that message repeatedly from Penrose residents during the Apple Shed hearing that they believe there is too much of a concentration of medical marijuana licenses operating in Penrose.   The result of that was action by the Board of Commissioners at their April 14th regular meeting to adopt a 24-month moratorium on the construction, alteration, or use of any building or properties countywide for any medical marijuana business licenses.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said the “monster” kind of got out of control and the 24-month moratorium is an effort by the Board to do everything possible to bring it back under control.   Bell said it’s important that the Board have time to step back, take a deep breath, and look at the licensing regulations to see what is or isn’t working.   District 1 Commissioner Tim Payne said he felt the medical marijuana industry would fade away when recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, but he noted that the exact opposite has happened.

Norden said public comments offered as part of the medical marijuana application review for the Apple Shed in Penrose was key on why the Board wanted to act quickly to impose a moratorium.   Norden said it will also allow enough time for the Board of Commissioners to consider more permanent restrictions on medical marijuana licensing and locations.   All three Commissioners noted during the discussion that potential revenues from medical marijuana have no influence in any of the licensing consideration.

The 24-month moratorium does not affect any existing licensees or applications already under review.   The moratorium means the county will not accept any new medical marijuana licenses application during that period.

The Board of Commissioners approved annual ambulance licensing for all agencies which operate in Fremont County.   They include Arkansas River Ambulance, Deer Mountain Fire Protection District, Penrose Fire Department, Florence Fire Department, and AMR Ambulance.   The four non-profit ambulance operations again requested a waiver of the county’s $100 ambulance licensing fee.   The Commissioners discussed the merits of the requests and in the end approved a motion to forgive half of the fee charging the non-profit operations $50 per ambulance inspection.

In other business at the April 14th Commissioners’ meeting the Board:

  • Adopted resolutions honoring Sandi Allen and Mike & Cathie Merlino upon their selection for the Pueblo Community College Fremont Campus Hall of Fame;
  • Rescheduled a public hearing for Play Dirty ATV’s Special Review Use application for April 28th at 10 a.m.;
  • Scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. on May 12th for Pioneer Sand & Gravel’s application for a gravel pit to be operated on the Phillips Ranch along Siloam Road south of Florence;
  • Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management giving the county cooperating agency status in preparation of the BLM’s Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan.