A philosophical debate played out Tuesday among Boulder City Council on how best to keep notoriously smelly cannabis businesses from too forcefully dominating the aromas sensed by passerby and workers in neighboring commercial spaces.
City staff had been working on business licensing regulations for the city’s nearly five dozen hemp businesses involving cultivation and extraction to ensure odor isn’t disturbing others and to ensure workplace safety. The goal was to create more parity with local oversight of the psychoactive breed of cannabis, marijuana.
But instead of allowing only three cannabis businesses total, involving either of the plant, hemp or marijuana, to be within 500 feet of each other as the city staff recommended, Councilman Aaron Brockett sent an email ahead of the meeting requesting consideration of an amendment to allow three of each type of facility in the 500-foot radius.
Brockett was absent on vacation with his family for the virtual meeting, so he did not cast a vote on the matter.
Mayor Sam Weaver and Councilwoman Mary Young said they were comfortable skipping Brockett’s proposed amendment because the city staff suggested granting grandfathered compliance to any existing business that would be in violation of the new rule that went into place for hemp businesses.
“With respect to odor, we want to encourage these types of businesses, whether they’re hemp or marijuana, to be concentrated and closer together because the more they’re spread out around town, the more residents and other businesses they’re going to impact,” Mayor Pro Tem Bob Yates said.
Council members Mark Wallach, Rachel Friend and Yates supported a motion that failed 5-3 that would have allowed three marijuana and an additional three hemp businesses within 500 feet of each other, as Brockett suggested, instead of the staff recommendation to limit it to three cannabis businesses total, of either type, within the 500-foot radius.
A motion aligned with the staff recommendation was passed by the Council. The newly seated Cannabis Licensing Advisory Board that will weigh in on local matters involving the industry was encouraged to take a look at the new ordinance for hemp businesses and offer future advice on any possible changes.
“Some of those (advisory board) members are steeped in the evolution and complexities of our cannabis code and provide the expertise about not only where hemp could align with cannabis regulations, but also where the hemp industry is unlike those in cannabis, and we would want to differentiate policies, accordingly,” Boulder Chamber Director of Public Affairs Andrea Meneghel said.
Councilwoman Mary Young questioned whether hemp businesses would be required to pay into the city’s Energy Impact Offset Fund, which takes payments from energy-intensive marijuana companies to support projects involving renewable energy and other ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp businesses will not have to pay into the fund for now under the new regulations, because officials felt they are not as heavily regulated as marijuana firms, Boulder Senior Counsel Kathy Haddock said.
“We didn’t feel comfortable that we have the authority to impose those (based) on criteria of the type of business it was. If Council were to decide to impose that requirement more broadly based on emissions or something, we could impose it on all the businesses that met that level,” Haddock said.
Hemp registration and licensing fees
- New license application fee: $1,200
- Hemp registration fee per year: $400
- Annual renewal fees: $1,100
- Minor modification of cultivation facility premises: $250
- Major modification of cultivation facility: $1,000
- Minor modification of extraction facility: $500
- Major modification of extraction facility: $1,200