An old court room in the San Mateo County History Museum.

Ed Bierman

Dispensary Shuttered by Colorado County Commissioners Files Lawsuit

The owner of New Horizons, an El Paso, Colorado medical cannabis dispensary, is suing the county commissioners after the board voted 3-2 to deny the business’ license renewal, the Gazette reports. The dispensary is one of four located in unincorporated areas shut down by the commissioners and the lawyers for the dispensary owner say the board abused its power, basing the denial on “minor” violations that were corrected.

“It was like getting shut down for a parking ticket,” said Shane Zacher, owner of New Horizons, in the report. “I don’t think that’s right.”

The commissioners cited a 2016 Marijuana Enforcement Division inspection which concluded that the dispensary’s plant counts were inaccurate – exceeding allowable limits by five plants – and that some of the plants were improperly labeled. A follow-up inspection this year uncovered an outdated access log, a glitch in the security system which prevented the sales floor from being monitored, and invalid vegetation room records.

Commissioner Mark Waller, who opposed the state’s cannabis industry while serving in the state legislature from 2009 to 2014, claimed the dispensary “had clear violations” and that the board “did not abuse its discretion.”

“Anything related to the tracking of the plants and the tracking of the sales is crucially important to do correctly,” he said in the report. “It enables the regulators to know that they are engaged in a fully legal business.”

The county’s medical cannabis policies give the commissioners the right to shut down any licensed operator “for good cause.”

Zacher said that several of the commissioners publicly oppose legalized cannabis and claimed they are trying to shut down all of the operators in their jurisdiction. New Horizons is the first dispensary denied a license renewal by the board.

County Spokesman Dave Rose indicated that county attorneys will likely seek a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.

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