Council discusses medical cannabis zoning

December 12, 2013 • Local News

A medical marijuana distributor could open a store in Roswell, City Councilors concluded after discussing whether to change a zoning ordinance Thursday. But a final vote to remove restrictions was postponed.

Several councilors spoke in favor of a medical cannabis center, and had a lengthy dialogue with an owner of a state-licensed dispensary in Ruidoso.

After mulling the idea and discussing it with City Attorney Barbara Patterson, some concluded that by removing the reference to medical marijuana the distribution centers could apply to operate.

“By pulling it off, there would be a greater opportunity for a distribution center to be established,” Mayor Del Jurney said.

Patterson explained that staff would need to explore more information from those who apply, such as what would be offered and what would be stored.

“We’re better off [auth] just letting a sleeping dog lie,” said Councilor Steve Henderson. “If you want a distribution center, come to the city and apply for whatever building you’re looking for. Just like anybody else.”

Councilor Juan Oropesa said he was supportive of a distribution center locating in the city.

“The reason I say that is because I have very close friends and relatives that are suffering,” Oropesa said. “One is right now at the point she may not even make it through Christmas.”

Oropesa said he spoke with several people at the cancer center recently and at a meeting and couldn’t find one person who opposed it.

“We all have friends and relatives who are struggling to get the medical marijuana,” Oropesa said.

Councilor Dusty Huckabee also said that although he also struggled recently with cancer, he was turned down for a prescription. His friend, though, was still alive because of her ability to secure medical cannabis.

“She would be absolutely dead right now,” Huckabee said. “She was starving to death.”

Councilor Barry Foster said he had talked to a physician about the issue of the medical cannabis program. The doctor told him many have cards but don’t have the money to drive to one of the 23 distributors.

“So we’re looking at our citizens not being able to have that kind of care,” Foster said.

Patterson told councilors that when staff was rewriting the ordinance, the item was placed in the list. But the field is heavily regulated and presents many conflicts with state and federal law, she said.

She first asked if the council could pull the item from consideration, to give staff more time to review it further and look at different areas to allow medical marijuana distribution centers.

Instead, councilors kept the issue alive after speaking to an attorney who represented Compassionate Distributors of Ruidoso and the owner of the business, Mandy Denson.

However, the council postponed voting on the entire package that included references to recreational vehicles, mobile homes and other commercial districts.

The change was part of a zoning ordinance, in which city staff recommended several changes and amendments. One amendment, which would make changes to building requirements along Second Street, was a last-minute addition by staff.

Recommended by Councilor Jason Perry, the council decided to postpone a vote to allow for further discussion and proper public noticing.

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