Last night I attended the City Of Fort Collins’ open house meeting to begin the discussion of Ordinance 128 that will be going to vote at City Council sometime in early 2015 – most likely in February. This ordinance is a mixed bag of regulations that primarily covers caregiver and personal grows in non-residential spaces… but then there are some weird additions that have nothing to do with growing, and everything to do with extractions and the butane explosions that we’ve been sort of seeing in Fort Collins.
First, I’ll say that this was my first time attending an open house discussion for such a contentious topic in town. The last city meeting I attended was about new food truck regulations. Everyone was calm, expressed their ideas clearly, and was collaborative in working toward compromised progress.
This meeting? I seriously felt like I was in a Parks & Rec episode.
There was a really loose and relaxed agenda. Essentially city representatives had four goals with a selection of ideas on how to achieve them listed on large papers taped to the wall. Then attendees were asked to include their suggestions for consideration before they wrote up the legal wording to put in front of City Council.
Sounds easy enough, right? Right. But wrong.
There’s always one person in the group who is combative and derails the conversation. And there was one guy in the open house doing just that – arguing about why extraction regulations were included in growing regulations, how we should be able to grow outside instead of inside industrialized environments (preaching to the choir there), and then not exactly being informed well enough for how far along we are in the cannabis conversation in Fort Collins. BUT HERE’S THE THING! I totally agreed with his question and concerns about why extraction regulations were being tied into growing regulations – since they are different. But, when you add your (pretty uneducated yet valid) input to a discussion in an argumentative way, conversation shuts down, everyone dismisses you and the frustration becomes tangible. Oh, boy – was it tangible. Soon Eric Sutherland was yelling, “SANDY! HEY SAND! THIS ISN’T THE SANDY SHOW!” trying to get things back on track.
But here’s the intention of the meeting and what’s really going underneath the live performance of the Coloradoan’s comment section…
The primary reason for the meeting was to lay the first layer foundation of regulations for personal grows in shared warehouses. Apparently this is already happening so that people can split the costs of operation (electricity, etc) in a controlled environment because growing at home with the regulations we have in place is a pain in the ass and expensive. People have been creating almost grow co-ops together, but it’s easy for Black Market practices to slide in and the regulations between personal grows, caregiver grows, and illegal grows blur.
The City wants to make it so that it’s easier to show proof of the allowable plant count, have the ability for people to separate their plants from others sharing the space, and include personal contact info on the outside of the enclosure.
When they currently come across this situation and ask for proof upon their return, the grow operation is gone and cleaned out, thus leading everyone to believe that it was illegal to begin with.
The intention is in the right place, I think. I would be interested in trying my hand at growing, but there’s no way in hell I want to do this at my home. It’s expensive and I have kids that I don’t want to get into things. However, I think it would be really cool to pay a rental fee in a grow house and see what I can produce. It’s easier, cheaper, and safer. This is also a great solution for people who live in rentals, apartments, and townhouses who can’t homegrow – because they have every legal right to participate, all they need is legal space.
Creating co-grows will help to alleviate some perceived issues that have been happening during the legalization process. Because people can grow at home, there’s an increased risk of electrical fires, neighbors complaining about the smell, and fears of break-ins. It’s not like your house gets inspected before you start home growing to become approved as safe. AND NOR SHOULD IT. People have been growing hydroponic vegetables at home without any problem at all – so why is it all of a sudden so important that cannabis needs to be of concern?
Most will say that it’s because of house fires. A representative from Poudre Fire Authority was there to address this, and said that we have an average of 100 fires in Fort Collins per year (this was just a loose conversation – no stats were on hand), and that 3 of those fires were due to cultivation, not extraction. It’s not a huge issue, actually.
In reality, this is a way to start curtailing the dipshits blowing up their homes from butane explosions from extraction – which has nothing to do with growing, but everything to do with production/manufacturing of shatter and wax. This is where things are going wrong. There’s nothing regulating people smoking cigarettes while on an oxygen tank or people frying turkey in their garage on Thanksgiving. Both will cause house fires (and by larger numbers) by stupid people who don’t care to follow directions.
So do we need to be regulated for everything? Haven’t we learned from cannabis prohibition that banning things doesn’t work?
Denver recently introduced the same restrictive regulations on extraction processes. It seems that open blasting indoors is already illegal no matter who you are or where you’re at. So, if you blow up your house, they’ll find out, you get sent to jail and without insurance to cover the “accident”. Then everyone who apparently knows how to do it safely will continue to do it anyway.
This is a really difficult situation for the City of Fort Collins, because it is the super stupid people causing these problems. The last house to explode only had the windows blown out – not exactly a huge deal. And there aren’t many fires – 3 a year. Regulations are going in to place for no real reason, and those who are doing extractions are still going to do it anyway. So how can The City make sure that apartments and townhouses are safe?
They can’t. It’s like trying to regulate people who don’t water their Christmas trees or put too many lights on and not following the instructions the fire department puts out every year, thus creating a number of fatal house fires, too.
TL;DR – So, this is where we’re at with Ordinance 128 – possibly making it easier for people to legally grow their personal stashes outside of their homes in co-op grow houses, and possibly controlling the grow set up at and banning flammable extraction processes at home.
I didn’t take photos of people’s suggestions, but I did make sure to include my contact information on the provided sheet so I can be included in continued conversation on the issues. I’ll be sure to keep you all up-to-date on what’s happening with cannabis in Fort Collins.