State Rules Could Force ‘Green’ Dispensaries In Boulder


Photo: Marty Caivano
Todd Young stands among his growing medical marijuana plants at the Therapeutic Compassion Center in Boulder last year. A combination of state and city laws being considered would force all dispensaries to offset 100 percent of their electricity use with wind or solar power.

‚ÄčA Colorado bill that sets regulations for the growing medical marijuana industry would probably have the unintended side effect of forcing all dispensaries in Boulder to use 100 percent wind or solar energy.

House Bill 1284, which appears to be on its way to the governor’s desk this week, contains a provision requiring all dispensaries to grow at least 70 percent of the marijuana they sell, reports Heath Urie at the Boulder Daily Camera.

At the same time, city regulations being considered in Boulder, which will probably be approved May 18, would require dispensaries that grow any amount of their own cannabis to offset 100 percent of the electricity they use by subscribing to wind power, connecting to a community solar garden or using on-site solar panels.

The combination of state and local laws would likely mean that each of the 100 licensed marijuana dispensaries in Boulder would have to go 100 percent clean energy.
Dispensary owners, and some city officials, are split on the idea.
Several City Council members have said the medical marijuana industry should offset the greenhouse-gas emissions generated by the high-wattage lamps, fans, ventilators, and other equipment used in indoor cultivation.
But Councilman George Karakehian said imposing strict rules for a specific category of businesses is “setting a dangerous precedent.”
“I don’t feel like it’s good government to impose rules on one group for just an arbitrary reason,” Karakehian said. “There are other big users of electricity. Why aren’t we doing anything about them?”
Suzy Ageton and Matt Appelbaum are also among the minority of council members who oppose the requirement.
“You do not single out one particular type of business,” Appelbaum said.
Despite their opposition, Karakehian, Ageton and Appelbaum all voted to approve the new Boulder regulations on second reading last week.
The proposed state and local laws already carry hefty licensing fees that could top tens of thousands of dollars, according to Ryan Hartman, co-owner of Boulder Wellness Center. Hartman said he is concerned that adding more equipment costs would further hurt small dispensaries such as his.
“Everyone has this idea that you open up a dispensary and within a month you’re rich,” he said. “I don’t have a car because everything I make goes back into the business.”
Hartman said he wouldn’t mind setting a goal for his dispensary to use 100 percent renewable energy within a few years, but he doesn’t think Boulder should mandate it.
If both the Colorado state regulations and Boulder city regulations pass, dispensary owners will be required to offset 100 percent of their electricity use by subscribing to Windsource, a product of Xcel Energy; subscribing to a community solar garden; using on-site solar panels; or using some other city-approved source of renewable energy.
Dispensaries would also be required to provide utility bills to the city upon request, to prove how much electricity they use and from where it is coming.