County to do Fact Finding for Potential Marijuana Ordinance



Prowers County Sheriff, Sam Zordel, met with the Prowers County Commissioners to discuss revamping the ordinance pertaining to regulations for growing, cultivating and processing marijuana in the county.

Amendment 64, passed several years ago, legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use and amendment 20 pertains to the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Sheriff Zordel is asking the commissioners to review a new ordinance which has been adopted by Douglas and Lincoln counties that close some ‘loopholes’ for the use of marijuana not specifically covered in amendments 64 and 20.  The sheriff added, “Kiowa County is also looking at these new regulations and this ordinance is a copy of what has been used in Lincoln and Douglas at this point.”  The new proposals cite that some circumstances, “has resulted in a proliferation of non-licensed and unregulated marijuana grow operations that present significant health and public safety concerns with multiple and persistent violations of County building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and fire codes…”

Based on a local two to one vote of county residents against the commercialization of marijuana, the commissioners passed an ordinance barring its introduction into unincorporated areas of Prowers County for uses other than medical treatment. Provisions of the new ordinance will not hinder the rights of citizens already granted by amendments 20 and 64, but will add regulations to how primary and secondary buildings on property can be used, plus the size of the property.  It also gives a more specific definition to who would be a caregiver and their duties as outlined under amendment 20 for medicinal uses of marijuana.  The number of plants that can be grown or processed at a primary residence would be limited to no more than 12 and use of compressed flammable gas products or liquids that could be used to process marijuana would be prohibited.  Visibility of marijuana operations from outside a building should be prohibited as well as excessive traffic at a residence, and the presence of marijuana odors should not be detectable from an adjoining property.  Advance permission must be given by a landlord for a rental property to be used for marijuana operations.

Asked on a legal ruling to the new ordinance, county attorney, John Lefferdink, replied that we’re operating under a dual system of legalization. “Pot is now treated like alcohol.  It’s become legal only because voters say so and the federal government is not enforcing the federal law with marijuana still being noted as a controlled substance.  It’s a strange situation in that it’s illegal, but is allowed because of politics.”

Lefferdink said that the commissioners should consider that at some future point, the county may be subjected to a lawsuit to open the doors to commercial sales. “The state already has a marijuana attorney in the attorney general’s office,” he stated, adding that the medical marijuana loopholes left left gaps in the legal process so law enforcement rarely enforces the laws because of them and there’s a potential that if a deputy shuts down a grower’s operation, they stand a chance of a lawsuit because the defense attorney will try to make a case of not having any probable cause to make an arrest.  Lefferdink said there may be some privacy issues about using marijuana in your own home.  He suggested, “If we try to pass this, it’ll probably be challenged at some point.”

Sheriff Zordel stated the current loopholes allow too much leniency for some provisions which could allow growing plants for personal use could easily develop into a commercial operation. He explained, “Based on the recreational side, every person can grow six plants but you have the ability to have a friend grow for you, even though you don’t reside at the grow site, so you’ve got some guy growing 100 plants at his house; all he has to do is come up with people who all claim them to be theirs.  If it’s outdoors it’s a risk for not being secured.  You have public access to it including children and kids who are already exposed to it inside their house.”  Zordel said he’s mindful of privacy issues for the public,  “I’m not trying to give law enforcement further access into a residence, I still have to have probable cause to prove a crime was committed, but running butane hash oil extractions is a health and law enforcement issue.”

The commissioners took no action, but asked Attorney Lefferdink to review the language in the ordinance and discuss the ramifications with other county legal representatives on how they dealt with the new regulations.

By Russ Baldwin


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