Wed February 6, 2013

Taxed CBI Background Check System Draws Out Fort Collins Dispensary Reopenings

Medical marijuana dispensary owners in Fort Collins are preparing to reopen their doors this year. The move comes after voters approved Question 301 last November, which reversed a ban on the shops.

Grace Hood reports for All Things Considered.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s taxed and antiquated civil background check system could delay the process by as many as four months. That’s the current wait time for a civil fingerprint-based background check dispensary owners need in order to complete the permit process in Fort Collins.

A Long Wait

Dave Watson, who owns Kind Care of Colorado, has already submitted an application to reopen his south Fort Collins business with the city, and will submit another with the state this week.

“I’m hoping to have a soft opening at the beginning of April and be going full blast by April 20,” he said.

Watson’s goal is to be open for 4/20, a date has become an unofficial pot holiday of sorts.

But making that deadline may not be possible given the current four-month wait time for a CBI civil background check. It’s important to note that this CBI process is different from the CBI’s InstaCheck system related to handgun purchases.

CBI Spokesperson Susan Medina says the long wait is tied to an increase in requests as well as an antiquated system, which will be replaced in May. She adds that wait times can fluctuate. For example, at the end of 2011, the check took about four weeks for the CBI to perform.

City Needs CBI Checks to Move Forward

Fort Collins Neighborhood Administrator Ginny Sawyer says the city will work with the CBI to make sure the process is moving as smoothly as it can.

“Our police services are pretty committed to following through and staying on it and calling back and asking ‘Where are we in this process?’” she said.

Currently the process is only open to former dispensary owners seeking to reopen their shops. The deadline for their applications is April 2. The city has to wait until it gets the CBI-cleared background checks before it performs other building and police inspections.

Regardless of how long it actually takes to get the green light from city and state government, dispensary owner Dave Watson says the focus right now is on getting his shop revamped and ready to go. Compared to his 2009 opening when business steadily built over time, he expects 2013 to have a more brisk start.

“This time I think people are ready to come in the doors right away,” he said.

So far, CBS 4 reports the city has received eight applications for dispensaries. According to the ordinance, the current ratio of registered patients to dispensaries allows for 10 businesses.