Planning Commission recommends stricter MMJ regulations




The Colorado Springs Planning Commission today agreed to ask City Council to increase the buffer between medical marijuana centers and schools, all alcohol and drug treatment centers, and residential child-care facilities from 400 to 1,000 feet. The commission also will recommend to Council a 1,000-foot buffer from educational facilities, whose definition has been expanded to include preschool through college, university or seminary, as opposed to just K-through-12.

As reported earlier this week, Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council president Tanya Garduno fears that Council's approval of the new restrictions could zone dozens of MMCs out of business.

Commissioner Janet Suthers said her support of the expanded definition was spurred by input from college presidents Dick Celeste and Pam Shockley-Zalabak, of Colorado College and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, respectively.

“I think if they come to us and ask us for a 1,000-foot buffer for their reasons, that is A-OK with me,” said Suthers.

A failed effort to mandate a distance between medical marijuana centers drew support from Commissioner Carla Hartsell.

“The part that bothers me about having them close together is, we make a statement about what we value in our community — and I hate using that 'values' word, because I think we get all hung up on it," she said. "But we want to say something about Colorado Springs, and I guess I personally don’t want to be known as the marijuana capital of Colorado, where we have them everywhere.”

Though City Councilor Sean Paige has already made clear his distate for the Planning Commission's recommendations, commissioners were still hopeful Council would listen.

"We’ve made it pretty restrictive, knowing full well that behind us sits the City Council," said Commissioner Donald Magill. "I am hopeful that what we’ve done here is sent a message to the community that we care ... and that the City Council will pick up on that and accept our recommendations for this ordinance and do the licensing appropriately.”

Hartsell agreed, and ended with sharp words for the city.

"As a longtime city employee, and certainly now as community volunteer, I understand the financial constraints the city is under," she said. "And I really resent the fact that, as a City Council, they seem to be motivated by one thing, and one thing only, and that’s the revenue that comes to the general fund. I know they’re not going to like hearing that.

“I think we’re selling our soul to the devil if we make all our decisions based on how much money we’re going to get from a business.”

When reached by text message for a reaction to the commission's meeting, Garduno offered one word: "Disgusting."

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