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Westminster Pot Lawsuit Said To Be City Test Case

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Westminster pot lawsuit said to be city test case



Published: Sunday, August 15, 2010 10:39 PM MDT



AURORA | A lawsuit against a city that banned medical marijuana dispensaries could foreshadow future lawsuits against municipalities statewide, including Aurora, that try to ban dispensaries.


The lawsuit was filed last week against the city of Westminster, which passed a dispensary ban in November 2009, although there were two dispensaries operating within city limits before the ban.


The Westminster lawsuit is being dubbed “the test case” for cities statewide that attempt to ban dispensaries within city limits. Aurora city officials decided last month to ask voters in November whether they want to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.


Aurora was one of the first cities in Colorado to quickly move forward with a ballot initiative. Even if voters decided to ban dispensaries, the potential for lawsuits has now skyrocketed because of the Westminster case, said Brian Vicente, an attorney and the executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Sensible Colorado. A new statewide law allows municipalities to ban dispensaries at their own discretion, or initiate a ballot item that would let voters decide the future of dispensaries within the city.


The law also allows for ballot language that could ask voters whether they want to prohibit the operation of medical marijuana centers, grow operations and manufacturers’ licenses for medical marijuana-infused products.


In order to reduce the potential of lawsuits, the city won’t include language about location of dispensaries and other restrictions, said the city’s attorney, Charlie Richardson.



The city has not been threatened with lawsuits yet, but the city’s attorneys are prepared for the possibility, Richardson said.


“We have not received any written notices of claims or any verbal threats,” he said. “We would vigorously defend the city’s ability to follow the election option.”


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