The Grand Board of County Commissioners approved a marijuana license for the proposed dispensary outside of Granby.
In a 2-1 vote on Tuesday, Commissioners Kris Manguso and Rich Cimino voted in favor of the IgadI dispensary with Commissioner Merrit Linke dissenting.
The proposed location for the dispensary sits on unincorporated county land just outside Granby town limits. The dispensary previously raised some controversy for its proximity to the town, which does not allow for recreational or medical marijuana sales.
The hearing for the IgadI dispensary had originally been scheduled for November but was delayed due to a lease issue. David Michel, general counsel for IgadI, explained that the dispute arose from two subleases on the same property. He said that the problem had now been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
With more than 35 people attending the hearing and 20 speaking during public comment, the commissioners heard from a range of opinions on the dispensary and marijuana in general. The county also received 92 letters and emails in support of the location and 33 opposed, according to County Clerk Sara Rosene.
Some notable opponents to the location included Country Ace Hardware, a Granby business just a few doors down from the proposed location, and the Gambles Store. East Grand School District Superintendent Frank Reeves also wrote a letter against the dispensary, citing its proximity to the schools in Granby.
Many of the speakers against the location brought up the family values of Granby and their worries that this would interfere with the town’s morals.
“I thought the commissioners tried to support the town,” Granby resident Elaine Henrekin said at the hearing. “If Granby wanted to remain a family-friendly town without marijuana, 10 feet (away) is not enough.”
Granby Town Manager Ted Cherry spoke on behalf of the Granby trustees, citing a resolution passed last month asserting their opposition to the dispensary location. The trustees pointed to Granby’s vote against medical marijuana in 2010 and the fact that the location sits on the outskirts of town.
The owner of Grand County Automotive, which sits next door to the IgadI location and outside Granby town limits, wrote a letter in support of the dispensary. A few veterans and people who use marijuana to cope with medical issues explained how this location would benefit them.
A talking point that came up repeatedly was that of Red Dirt Hill, and how marijuana customers on the north and west sides of the county would be grateful to have a location that did not include a drive over the infamous strip of US Highway 40.
There were also a number of the speakers Tuesday employed by IgadI who spoke praise of the company’s upward mobility and culture. Michel said the new location would create eight jobs.
In his remarks, Michel pointed to the comments sent in support for the dispensary outweighing those opposed two to one. He added that IgadI’s location in Tabernash has never seen any legal compliance issues.
One of the biggest arguments held by Michel and many supporters was the revenue the location would bring to the county.
“People will get marijuana, the question is where will they get it?” Michel said. “Who’s going to get the tax revenue? How are we going to provide ease of access for those who make those choices?”
After public comment, all three commissioners reiterated that the hearing was not on whether marijuana in general should be allowed, but on whether the county should issue a license for that location. They all agreed that the revenue from the store was not a driving factor in their decision.
“You don’t, from a public policy prospective, approve a bad product because you want the revenue,” Cimino said. “No, it’s not about the revenue… For me, it’s about freedom for business owners.”
Both Manguso and Cimino emphasized that regardless of personal opinions, it was not the government’s place to decide whether a legal business should be allowed to open.
“I am pro business,” Manguso said. “And this is a business that has the right to operate.”
She apologized to the Granby trustees for not following their wishes but added that the town should work to annex locations like this.
While Linke agreed that the government’s role was not to “parent” marijuana use, he said he heard valuable arguments from both sides about the specific location.
Linke made the motion to approve the application, but after pausing long enough for Manguso to ask if he was going to vote, Linke voiced his no. Linke’s commissioner district encompasses Granby and Grand Lake, and it seems the desire expressed by Granby’s trustees and some residents living near that location compelled him to do so.
“I’m going to respect the town of Granby and the people that have brought forth compelling arguments,” Linke explained. “I respect the town of Granby’s desire to not have this 10 feet from their town borders.”
The county clerk said that the building is not yet complete, so even though the application has been approved the location must fulfill some conditions before it can open.