So far, according to County Planner Mike Rozycki, that’s what the county intends to do, when the state finally comes to terms on its regulations for medical marijuana licensing, which is now expected by July 1, 2012.
Until then, the county is in a holding pattern regarding drafting regulations of its own, with the number of licensed facilities in its unincorporated areas stuck at three (who all submitted license applications before July 1, 2010, the state-appointed cutoff date).
Once the state does adopt those licensing regulations, Rozycki said, the county’s first step will be to decide just which areas are appropriate for medical marijuana retail outlets. Since the county has mostly rural and agricultural areas, and a limited amount of commercial zoning, the commissioners have stated in the past their preference that retail outlets to be primarily located in the Town of Telluride, and not in unincorporated areas.
The next step in drafting land use regulations, according to Rozycki, would be to look at optional grow facilities, and at which locations within the county would best suit them.
“So far, we have looked at the industrial zone districts that have low density,” he said. “The one close to the sheriff’s office, for example, is removed from residential neighborhoods, and is closer to areas where it’s possible to provide some measure of law enforcement. These are all things that the board would have to consider when adopting regulations for the medical marijuana industry.”
And while the board discusses what will be the best land use regulations within the county, Rozycki said the board will also take into account how surrounding counties and communities regulate medical marijuana, as well.
“Once concept we would talk about, and this is still just a piece of the conversation we have had, is a fair number of neighboring communities have prohibited medical marijuana facilities,” Rozycki said. “I don’t think this county wants to be the grow center for the rest of the state. It’s been a preliminary conversation that if we have grow facilities, we may talk about a licensing-review process to make sure a grower has some legitimate retail outlet here in the county, so we don’t become just a grow center.”
The idea, Rozycki said, is to keep grow-op facilities relatively small, making them less of a target for criminal activity.
“The size and scale of grow operations should be based on demand within the population here,” he said, as opposed to having “massive grow facilities supplying huge operations.”
In other words, talk in county corridors is all about keeping San Miguel County from developing into a Southwestern version of California’s Humboldt County.