In 2010, I was hired to facilitate a required neighborhood meeting about a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in a Colorado county.  The proposed business was to be located in a mixed-use residential and business area.  At that time, proprietors of such dispensaries were referred to as “caregivers”, and those purchasing marijuana were “patients”.  Marijuana was to be sold only with a doctor’s prescription.

After I opened the meeting by describing the procedure for it as mandated by the county, the applicant for the rezoning for the marijuana dispensary gave a proposal overview, including a handout giving the highlights of it.  This initial presentation took about 15 minutes.  A question and answer period of about 90 minutes followed.  I moderated this discussion and took notes (recording the neighbors’ questions and the applicant’s answers on a flip chart).  One or two supporters of the proposal had come at the behest of the applicant.  The others present were neighbors who were opposed to (or very concerned about) the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood.

The whole concept of “caregivers” and “patients” was questioned extensively.  The owner of a nearby recreational facility patronized by children and young adults was very concerned that the proposed facility, if approved, could put him out of business.  Even though the stated intent was to sell only to “patients”, and the marijuana sold was to be grown on-site, there was still a general concern that product might be sold to others, including youngsters.  A typical concern relating to controversial land use proposals was raised by many in attendance – a decrease in property values.  Another strong concern among the attendees was the perceived potential for an increased crime rate.  It was also […]