What: Meeting on medical marijuana business applications
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday
Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway
More info.: Call Rosemary Gearhart at 303-441-3024.
The 42 applications for medical marijuana business licenses that the city of Boulder has received so far are filled out so poorly that officials say they might have to reject them all -- and some dispensary owners may have to fork over an additional $3,000 fee.
"They're not complete; they're not accurate," said Rosemary Gearhart, the city's medical marijuana program specialist in charge of weeding through the applications for business licenses. "It's a complex process, and it's new law, and everybody is struggling."
Gearhart said the situation with the applications -- which are due to the city by Nov. 1 if dispensaries and growing operations want to continue operating after that date -- is so bad that the city would have to reject most, if not all, of the paperwork unless it's corrected by applicants.
"They're taking so long to go through because there are so many errors," she said. "Of the ones that I've gone through, there's just too many mistakes for them to be acceptable."
If an application is outright rejected, an applicant would likely have to pay a second $3,000 fee to cover the city's time reviewing it again, she said.
But Gearhart said the city is trying to avoid that and will host a public meeting Tuesday to give dispensary owners a second chance. The meeting will cover common mistakes being made on the applications and reiterate the importance of including every required document and detail.
Some of the most frequent mistakes include not submitting a checklist of required documents, incorrect information on a certificate of insurance or incomplete operating plans.
The application packet, which states up front that business owners should retain an attorney to help navigate it, asks for information including whether the business sells marijuana-infused foods, how it plans to offset its energy used to grow the plant and whether it has a "good-neighbor plan."
The city also wants detailed information about the people behind the businesses, requiring background checks on anyone with as little as a 1 percent ownership interest.
Gearhart -- a temporary city employee hired specifically to oversee the applications through the end of this year -- said the owners of most dispensaries and growing operations appear to be making their best efforts on the applications.
"If they're making a good-faith effort, I'm going to try to work with them," she said, and not charge a second fee.
Alisa Lewis, the city clerk, said she also realizes the pressure that purveyors of medical marijuana are under, with recent changes to state laws conflicting with parts of Boulder's recently approved medical marijuana code.
"What we're finding is it's a very complex and long process, and people are just really struggling with it," she said. "We don't want to have to say 'no' to everybody."
The city's notice has some dispensary owners on edge.
Sarah Meiser, a manager at Boulder Vital Herbs, 2527 Broadway, said her company is still putting together its application.
"We're doing it ourselves," she said. "We can't afford to pay an attorney."
She said the scuttlebutt in the industry is that Boulder's complex regulations are driving some medical marijuana companies away.
"I know some people had applied for licenses -- or were going to -- in Boulder and have moved their locations" after seeing what was involved, she said.
She said her business is already struggling, financially, with the state and local fees required just to remain open. She said it would be devastating to have to pay another $3,000 if her application is rejected.
"It's very tough," she said. "Nobody is getting paid here."
Brad Melshenker, owner of The Greenest Green, 2034 Pearl St. in Boulder, said he believes the city will find a way to give dispensary owners time to get the paperwork right.
"I think that it will all figure itself out," he said. "I try and stay calm through all these changes."
Contact Camera staff writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328, or firstname.lastname@example.org.