LAFAYETTE — The door to recreational pot sales in Lafayette was opened Tuesday night after the City Council approved on first reading an ordinance that would allow the only medical marijuana dispensary in the city to convert to a recreational license.
The ordinance would specifically amend Lafayette’s moratorium on recreational marijuana, which lasts until April 1, to allow Herbal Wellness to either convert to recreational cannabis sales or co-locate a recreational pot shop with its existing dispensary on South Boulder Road.
It would also permit the city’s four cultivation facilities to obtain recreational licenses.
If the ordinance is passed in final form two weeks from now, it will make Lafayette the fourth community in Boulder County — along with Boulder, Louisville and Nederland — to take steps to allow recreational marijuana sales.
In the meantime, the city will be drafting its recreational marijuana regulations, which the City Council is scheduled to consider Feb. 18 as well.
Lafayette Planning Director Phillip Patterson said the regulations and rules for recreational pot will likely look similar to those put into place in 2011 for medical marijuana, which include keeping dispensaries 500 feet or more from residential areas, 1,000 feet or more from schools and hospitals and 800 feet or more from U.S. 287 or Colo. 7.
Dispensaries also can’t exceed 3,000 square feet in size.
“We will generally apply as a starting point the rules we have applied to medical marijuana,” Patterson said. “Prior councils were comfortable letting in medical marijuana subject to all these buffers.”
Councilwoman Staci Lupberger, the sole member of the council to vote against the ordinance Tuesday, wondered how fair it was to put the marijuana industry on a fast track when other businesses in the city don’t get that kind of consideration.
But Councilwoman Alexandra Lynch said the city needs to start the ball rolling if it is going to allow recreational sales of cannabis because it will still take weeks for the sole business in town to get approval from the state and from the city to convert.
To start with, the state won’t consider a recreational application from a business if the municipality in which that business resides has a moratorium in place.
“It gives people time to deal with the rapidly changing marketplace,” Lynch said.
Eric Ryant, owner of Herbal Wellness, said he plans to apply for a dual license at his dispensary at 400 W. South Boulder Road. He said his main focus is on continuing to service his medical marijuana patients, but the market reality is that he can’t ignore the opportunity to sell pot to a wider audience.
“I want to keep my medical business because that’s where it all started,” Ryant said. “I’m very loyal to my patients.”
He said he planned to provide a separate entrance to the recreational side of his business — as mandated by state law — once he is able to move forward on it.
If the Lafayette City Council approves the second reading of the moratorium amendment and then approves new regulations for recreational marijuana stores, Herbal Wellness could be in a position to submit an application to the city for a recreational license in mid-March.
Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.