Authorities lit up over some medical-marijuana shops

City says one place violating codes; feds say one store too close to Animas High School

Law enforcement is cracking down on local medical-marijuana shops with Animas Herbal Wellness Center facing possible suspension and Rocky Mountain High under pressure from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to either shut down or find a new location.

Durango Code Enforcement Officer Steve Barkley on Tuesday recommended Animas Herbal Wellness Center, 1111 Camino del Rio, for a suspension of its business license because of multiple violations involving the failure of employees to wear badges and failure to secure surveillance equipment.

During the monthly meeting of the Local Licensing Authority, Barkley said the business failed to show corrections during follow-up inspections over the last year.

City Attorney David Smith recommended that the licensing authority schedule a “show cause hearing” for its next regular meeting March 20 to give the Animas Herbal Wellness Center an opportunity to defend itself from the accusations.

“Rasta Stevie” Smith, the store manager and a former city councilor in Telluride, declined to comment after the meeting.

Rocky Mountain High, 129 E. 32nd St., has been asked by the U.S. Attorney John Walsh to stop distributing marijuana by Monday because of its location within a 1,000 feet of Animas High School.

The dispensary is considering relocating downtown to 640 Main Avenue between College Drive and Seventh Street.

Representatives for Rocky Mountain High asked the licensing authority for help in expediting the move but the board could not act because the dispensary did not have a lease agreement for the new location.

Store officials would like to open in the new location before March 20, the next regular meeting of the licensing authority, which regulates the sale of liquor and medical marijuana.

Jordan Smith, a store representative, said Rocky Mountain High is a caregiver with 300 regular customers.

Rocky Mountain High is among the more than 20 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide asked to move or shut down because of proximity to schools, but it is the only one affected in Durango, said David Smith, city attorney.

During the hearing Tuesday, he asked Rocky Mountain High to change its name to something more subtle.

“I think you can understand the problem,” Smith said. The city does not want shops “up and down Main Avenue” advertising the sale of marijuana.

Alex Ellis, Rocky Mountain High representative, said they would take the name change under advisement.

“We don’t want to be too in your face,” Ellis said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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