WINDSOR — While towns and cities around it are saying “no” to medicinal marijuana dispensaries, Windsor town leaders looked at the sometimes controversial issue like they look at any new business.
“Nothing on our books prohibits it,” Windsor Police Chief John Michaels said of In Harmony Wellness in the Westgate Center near the Interstate 25 and Colo. 392 intersection. “The issue has been raised in many jurisdictions. We relied on what was on our books at that time. We didn’t take steps at that point to make any changes to our laws.”
In Harmony Wellness opened in June to a quiet reception, and Michaels said it has remained quiet.
“We have had no service calls to that location,” he said.
It wasn’t the same in Greeley, recently, when the Greeley City Council decided 6-1 to ban dispensaries.
Council members expressed concern about public safety. Ed Phillipsen said advocates’ arguments that medical marijuana has no harmful side effects and hasn’t caused deaths were ridiculous.
Evans is also leaning toward a ban.
Tina Valenti, owner of In Harmony Wellness, said she was let down by the decision in Greeley.
Although the ban may push patients their way, Valenti and her business partner, Derek Cumings, said it’s not about the competition. It’s about getting rid of the old way of thinking and educating people that medicinal marijuana has a place in society.
“It’s not doing anything to destigmatize the whole issue,” Valenti said. “People using medicinal marijuana benefit, but they are still making it seem like a big crime and hassle.
“So many people know people who have benefited from it. So for cities to still be making it so difficult to run a legitimate, respectable business that provides a product that benefits so many, I’m disappointed. They further perpetuate the stigma.”
In 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, allowing patients with certain medical conditions to use marijuana legally under a physician’s recommendation. The law allows for up to 2 ounces and six plants to be held by the patient so long as the patient is registered with the state and has appropriate identification.
More than 9,000 people carry that identification in Colorado, and the state expects as many as 15,000 applications by year’s end.
Michaels said unless things change at the state level, Windsor has no concerns about allowing the dispensary. He said everyone within town government thought carefully about it before making the decision.
“In the future, if the state makes any changes to the law, we’ll take it up then,” Michaels said.
Aspects of the sale of marijuana continue to be looked at both at the state and national level.
Earlier this year, because of the overwhelming number of applications by young men in their 20s, the state tried to limit the number of patients a dispensary could treat to five, but that regulation was rejected in August.
And in October, President Barack Obama announced that although federal laws prohibit any use or possession of marijuana, federal resources will not be used to circumvent states’ rights by raiding marijuana dispensaries.
That’s only the beginning of what needs to be done, however, Valenti said.
“It was great,” Valenti said. “I think it is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done to standardize the business.”
By Sherrie Peif