The business of medical marijuana

Gilpin County Management

By Roger Baker

The ordinance on marijuana businesses that the Gilpin County Commissioners will be considering on Tuesday (August 20) is really just an extension of the various moratoria they have enacted over the past several years, since the “business” of medical marijuana exploded a few years ago.

Those earlier acts didn’t do anything, of course, that would limit the constitutional rights of medical marijuana patients or their caregivers to use and grow limited amounts of marijuana; it just made it clear that the large-scale growing and marketing of medical marijuana was not something the Commissioners thought appropriate or particularly beneficial for the County as a whole.

Similarly, the proposed ordinance does nothing to prevent individuals from possessing, using or growing small amounts of marijuana for personal use; no longer is there any requirement that medical certification be obtained.

The ordinance specifically limits marijuana businesses in the County to the two that now exist as medical marijuana outlets – one in south Gilpin County, in the Gold Dust complex along Highway 119, and the second in the alternative medicine building across from Taggert’s in mid-Gilpin County. (North County residents, of course, can always make the short trip to Nederland for purchases).

But like the great majority of Colorado counties and municipalities, Gilpin County has never aggressively pursued marijuana businesses – either medical or recreational – as an important component of the County’s commercial mix.

Moral and medical considerations aside, most governments have just found the paperwork involved too burdensome for the amount of revenue such businesses would generate, or the jobs they could potentially provide.

Since Gilpin County has no sales tax, there’s even less of an incentive to pursue commercial marijuana operations. And given our small resident population, any sort of large-scale operation would most likely be as cultivation centers for retails outlets elsewhere.

Both the state and the larger cities which have been dealing with this issue have found out how complicated it can become, and I suspect that knowledge will influence the Commissioners as they re-examine this question Tuesday. Still, they’re keeping an open mind on the subject, and will listen to anyone who wants to submit public comment in advance of the public hearing on Tuesday at 9:30. You can email your thoughts to, or mail them to PO Box 366, Central City,CO 80427.

I suspect the Commissioners will be hanging around the Fairgrounds this weekend, too, if you want to deliver your opinions in person. It’s not an election year, so there won’t be as many political booths as sometimes, but the County Fair is always a great place to see a whole lot of County folks in a very short time.

Of course, if you want to spend a longer time at the Fair, there’s certainly a lot to do and see. Though the Fair technically opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, the Fair-Tri triathlon actually starts even earlier, at 8. The vendor booths will close at 6 that evening, but there will be a family picnic and bonfire afterwards (and singer Katey Laurel will perform).

Sunday, as always, will kick off with the High Country Auxiliary pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., and the usual plethora of events and entertainment will make for a full day until 4 p.m. that afternoon. You can find a detailed schedule on the County website, but there’s always something going on, so just show up and spend the day (or two). And maybe you can catch the ear of a Commissioner or two or three.

And just this one weekend, let’s not pray for rain. We can wait until Monday…

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