Durango medical marijuana rules are likely to change numerous times in the months and years ahead to address local issues and state-level decisions.
That was the message La Plata County commissioners heard from county staff Thursday during a work session.
Despite the uncertainty, commissioners were urged not to delay action.
Our recommendation is that you not wait, Mitch Behr, an attorney for the county, told commissioners.
When they adopted a temporary set of land-use regulations governing medical marijuana production earlier this year, county commissioners had hoped to draw from state regulations in drafting a permanent set of land-use and licensing rules. But as state officials move to give themselves another year to fully complete the project, Behr said county officials could better monitor and regulate the industry during the meantime if some rules, particularly licensing policies, were adopted sooner.
Various county departments reported their progress in researching medical marijuana concerns and issues during the meeting. Commissioners did not offer official direction or comments to staff but agreed to do so in a future meeting.
They must determine whether to amend the previously adopted temporary land-use permitting policy or adopt a more permanent set of land-use rules for medical marijuana cultivation and production. Commissioners also will give directions for drafting licensing requirements.
Under a current draft proposal of state rules, Behr said local governments are given broad authority in licensing and regulating the industry. And future state licenses and permits wont be issued to applicants until after the local licenses and permits are granted, he said.
Among the issues to be addressed by commissioners in the coming weeks are matters such as rules enforcement, fees and costs, and a few clarifications related to neighborhood compatibility.
Commissioners said they dont want to inadvertently subsidize the growing medical marijuana industry.
Because under the states Taxpayers Bill of Rights constitutional amendment the county cannot profit from the process, County Attorney Sheryl Rogers said officials will try to set fees to cover the costs as closely as possible. She added, but for some time, youll be operating at a loss.
Emergency Management Director Butch Knowlton said grow lights for indoor cultivation also have become a major concern for his department. They are the most significant hazard involved with medical marijuana production, he said. Most La Plata County homes are not equipped with adequate electrical infrastructure to support the lights, he said.