FORT COLLINS, CO — Valentine’s Day brings broken hearts to patients in Fort Collins, and pink slips to hundreds of dispensary workers in the city’s 20 medical marijuana dispensaries, as medical marijuana dispensaries shut down to meet a deadline imposed by voters. Under a city measure passed by voters on November 1, medical marijuana dispensaries have until the end of business today to cease operations and remove all medical marijuana products from the premises.
Earlier this month, a state district court judgeissued a temporary restraining order directing city and state officials to not enforce provisions of voter-approved ban on dispensaries until a hearing can be conducted on a lawsuit challenging its legality. Voters approved the ban in November, but six local dispensaries filed a lawsuit over it last week. The lawsuit claims the ban violates the state constitution and would irreparably harm their livelihoods.
Last week a state judge dismissed the restraining order, upholding the voter-approved measure to ban dispensaries under Colorado law. In 2010, lawmakers decided to allow cities and counties to decide whether to allow medical marijuana businesses within their boundaries.
Teams of police officers will be inspecting store-front marijuana dispensaries and growing operations today to ensure they are in compliance with a voter-approved ban on the businesses.
“We’re kind of the code enforcement guys, we’re the movers,” Sgt. Jim Bryne, with Fort Collins Police Services, said.
In the next 24 hours, he says police will be collecting the marijuana and products that are left over from the dispensaries.
“Many of the dispensaries are waiting until that last moment to close,” Bryne said.
At Infinite Wellness, dispensary owner Cristine Romarine closed up shop at the end of the day Monday.
“My heart aches, actually – a lot,” Romarine said sighing. “There are a lot of people who will suffer from this.”
She says she invested her life savings in a business she believed in. She says the closing means job losses at her Fort Collins business, one of 20 that are closing as a result of the ban.
As for medical marijuana patients in the area, there are two dispensaries in nearby Larimer County, and patients can still go to caregivers who can grow marijuana at home. Patients can also grow marijuana themselves.
State law allows a caregiver to assist up to five patients with medical marijuana. Each patient may have six plants, but current city law limits caregivers to growing 12 plants in a single-family residence, regardless of how many patients live there.
There’s no limit on how many plants may be grown in a unit of a multi-family facility.