Voters in Grand Junction and Castle Rock, Colorado, have put an abrupt stop to medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits. In early April, 57 percent of voters in Grand Junction and more than 70 percent of voters in Castle Rock chose to ban the dispensaries, forcing existing dispensaries to close up shop immediately.
The medical marijuana debate continues more than ten years after Colorado voters legalized medical marijuana. Enacted on June 1, 2001, Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution allowed for controlled medical marijuana possession, use and cultivation. On June 7, 2010, the Colorado Legislature signed significant changes into law through House Bill 1284. The bill stopped the formation of new medical marijuana dispensaries and gave local municipalities the authority to ban dispensaries within city/town limits.
The Effects of Local Bans on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Since House Bill 1284, many towns and cities throughout Colorado have elected to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Grand Junction and Castle Rock join Superior, Hayden, Kremmling, Broomfield and many others.
The local municipalities’ ban of medical marijuana is one part of a continually-evolving debate about medical marijuana. Those in favor of the Grand Junction and Castle Rock bans claim that medical marijuana has gotten out of control, with growing numbers of illegal marijuana distribution cases and poor regulation of dispensaries in Colorado cities. There are more than 700 dispensaries in the state and more than 250 in Denver alone. However, the demand for medical marijuana is also growing. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are nearly 125,000 patients using medical marijuana in Colorado for legitimate illnesses.
Because the ban goes into effect immediately, medical dispensaries in Castle Rock and Grand Junction must close their doors. Dispensaries that continue to operate in the municipalities could face large fines and other legal action. Individual caregivers may still give medical marijuana to five patients in those cities and throughout Colorado.