By William Stash Jones
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Colorado cities and counties have been empowered by the state’s highest court in a decision that could make it hard for some medical marijuana businesses to obtain their business licenses. On Monday, April 24, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled that the city of Northglenn had the right to deny a license to a business. They city had denied the license claiming the business was superfluous.
The decision reversed a district court ruling and affirms local control of “number, type, and availability” that was codified in the original law and has been implemented by other communities in Colorado. The ruling makes it clear that local municipalities can craft regulations that control the number of dispensaries and other limits within their communities. The Cannabist reports:
The decision, which reverses a district court ruling, serves as an affirmation for local control — for the discretion granted to cities to craft locally appropriate ordinances for licensing and regulating marijuana centers and related facilities, said Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League, which filed an amicus brief in support of Northglenn.
Northglenn’s “number, type, and availability” code language for dispensary licensing was copied directly from the state statute and is a standard used by municipalities such as Breckenridge and Englewood, Bommer said in an email to The Cannabist.
“The whole premise behind the legislation in 2010 was keeping local control local on this issue. … While I cannot affirm how many municipalities adopted verbatim the ‘number, type, and availability’ standard into their codes, (I) would not be surprised to see the language in many — if not most municipalities that have authorized medical marijuana,” Bommer said.
The case goes back three years to a case filed by Rocky Mountain Dispensary against the city of Northglenn. The city had denied the dispensary a license because they felt it was unnecessary due to another dispensary already being in operation only a block away from their proposed store. At the time, Rocky Mountain Dispensary operated eight other dispensaries and claimed that their products would be unique and different than other dispensaries, such as the one already operating near their proposed store.
The district court had ruled the dispensary’s license denial was due to an improper standard that was applied by the Northglenn City Council and also that their decision was not evidence based, making it arbitrary. The appeals court did not even hear the case and instead immediately referred it to the state’s Supreme Court.
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