Business owner wants Commerce City to enforce ordinance regarding marijuana odors

Says strong odors are distracting his employees
Posted at 11:11 PM, Jun 23, 2018

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- The owner of a drywall design firm in Commerce City says an overwhelming odor of marijuana from an adjacent marijuana shop is distracting his employees.

He wants the the city's Marijuana Licensing Authority to enforce the odor control section of Commerce City's marijuana ordinance, which states that "all businesses shall be equipped with a system that ensures that no marijuana odor is detectable from the exterior of the business or from within any adjoining premises."

"It has not been pleasant for us," said Lawrence Ligon.

Ligon told Denver7 he purchased space in an industrial strip center, on the 9600 block of Dallas Street, five-and-a-half years ago, and that his property is now paid off.

He said Starbuds, a marijuana extraction plant, moved in next door two-and-a-half years ago.

"We've had issues," he said, "with marijuana smells coming from next door."

Problem Getting Worse

Ligon said the problem has gotten worse over the last three weeks.

"We come in here in the morning and the odor is very strong, very pungent," he said. "We've had to open the front and back doors, and get the air flowing through here with a couple of fans."

Ligon said the smell is so strong in the mornings that it's impacting his employees, "who work upstairs with complicated blueprints, drawings and numbers."

"They need to be sharp," he added. "I haven't been as sharp as I need to be since this has been going on."

Starbuds Response

Brian Ruden, the owner of Starbuds, said the odors aren't coming from his shop.

"The first thing to understand," he said, "is that this building has four or five other marijuana businesses, and it's very difficult to pinpoint which one the marijuana odor is coming from."

Ruden told Denver7 that he hired an engineer to design an air handling system with carbon filtration and ozone generator.

"So it's probably some of the other marijuana businesses that are new to the building," he said.

Ruden then launched a broadside back at Ligon.

"The owner of the business that is complaining is a known problem complainer," he said.

Another Violation

Ligon counters that Starbuds is not only in violation of Commerce City's marijuana odor control ordinance, but may have violated safety regulations regarding propane.

He said he received a subpoena to testify against a Starbuds employee, who was apparently caught on camera venting propane tanks just outside the company's garage door.

"People smoke back there and toss their cigarette butts on the ground," Ligon said. "I think the city should shut 'em down and stop it until they can get things done properly, so we don't have to smell the odors."

Investigation Underway

The city acknowledges that it is investigating the odor complaint and "another issue."

A spokeswoman said she couldn't talk about specifics, but did say whenever there are alleged violations, "we collect evidence and present it to the Marijuana Licensing Authority."

She said the Authority can take action up to and including suspension or revocation of the marijuana business's license.

Julia Virnstein said similar complaints were made in the past and there was a show-cause hearing with an administrative officer.

"There was a stipulated agreement," she said.

When asked about Ruden's claim that the odor is coming from one of the other marijuana-related businesses in the industrial business park, she said, "Our investigators look for that."