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February 18, 2016

Proposed Land Use Code Amendment: Docket DC-16-0002, concerning cultivation/processing of marijuana as a Residential Accessory Use

A new proposed Boulder County Land Use Code amendment has recently been initiated. On January 26, 2016, the Board of County Commissioners authorized staff to pursue text amendments to the Land Use Code in Docket DC-16-0002 – Proposed Boulder County Land Use Code Text Amendments to Article 4 and Article 18 to address the cultivation and processing of marijuana as a Residential Accessory Use.


The state of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana has presented numerous land use challenges as the new laws have been implemented. The County recognized the votes to legalize marijuana and has undertaken sensible regulations to address the impacts while allowing the various associated uses. Through the evolution of these uses it has become evident there are certain aspects of the County’s regulations which do not fully address the impacts and potential hazards present. In addition, the land use regulations may permit more than what is allowed under state laws thus creating a situation where the cultivations/grows are for activities not permitted under state law. In regard to this the County has received several complaints about the residential cultivation and processing of marijuana. Complaints raise concerns about odors, safety concerns from fire, explosions and potential exposure to hazardous materials.

The current Land Use Code allows personal cultivation and caregiver cultivation as Accessory uses and limits the area for the activity to no more than 300 square feet. Under that regulation it could be possible to grow more than 100 plants. The provisions also prohibit the use of flammable gases in any extraction. Staff is proposing to review the adequacy of the current regulations and draft amendments which then address any shortcomings. The goal is to have a clear regulatory framework which protects the safety of County residents and meet the intent of Accessory Use regulations. Land Use also wishes to ensure that the home marijuana uses under the code are roughly comparable to the regulations of other jurisdictions within the County to provide for more uniformity in enforcement and to avoid forum shopping by marijuana growers.

The referral letter and proposed draft Land Use Code text amendments regarding Docket DC-16-0002 are available at:

Next Steps

This docket review process will include a public hearing before the Boulder County Planning Commission, tentatively scheduled for March 16, 2016, and a public hearing before the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners, tentatively scheduled for April 5, 2016. Public comments will be taken at both hearings. Confirmation of hearing dates and times will be published online at, and sent to the Land Use Code email list.

The Land Use staff and County Commissioners value comments from individuals and referral agencies. All comments will be made part of the public record. Comments or questions on this proposed Land Use Code amendment may be sent to

If you have any questions regarding Docket DC-16-0002, please contact Senior Planner Bryan Harding at 303-441-3930 or

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