Commission approves rules for medical pot

Security, signage, odors are covered in county planners’ regulations

The La Plata County Planning Commission gave its stamp of approval Thursday to permanent land-use regulations for medical marijuana facilities in the county.

Those regulations will apply to marijuana growing, infused-products production and storage facilities in the unincorporated parts of the county. Large and small caregiver facilities generally fall under the regulations, as well. Medical marijuana centers, or dispensaries, are allowed and regulated only within Durango city limits.

The county’s proposed regulations outline restrictions on off-site odors, exterior signs, lighting and outward signs of marijuana growing or production.

Such facilities will not be allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care facilities or drug- or alcohol-treatment centers. They also are prohibited within three miles of Bayfield and Ignacio, which prohibit all medical marijuana facilities.

The Planning Commission added a requirement that facilities must have adequate security measures, such as a fence or a wall. But that standard will apply only to caregiver facilities because commercial operations are governed by stricter state security regulations.

The permanent regulations are only slightly different from the temporary ones the county adopted in 2010.

Also, they are separate from licensing regulations, which the county commissioners adopted in December. Applicants will need to comply with land-use permit and licensing requirements to begin operations. Both will go into effect July 1.

In La Plata County, there are fewer than 10 medical marijuana facilities operating with temporary land-use permits, said Paul Kosnik, assistant county attorney.

Those permits will expire at the end of June, at which time all permit holders will need to reapply with the county.

The Board of County Commissioners will consider the adoption of the permanent land-use permit regulations at its June 19 meeting. The commissioners’ decision will provide the necessary capstone to a two-year process by county officials to develop a set of land-use and licensing regulations for marijuana facilities.

Though an end is in sight, Kosnik recognized that revisions are likely as the regulations get put to use.

“This is just the first go-around,” he said.