By NIKI TURNERniki@theheraldtimes.comMEEKER I You won’t see any medical marijuana shops sprouting up in Meeker or anywhere else in Rio Blanco County. Following in the footsteps of the town of Rangely and the county, Meeker’s board of trustees passed an ordinance Tuesday prohibiting the establishment or operation of medical marijuana centers, medical marijuana cultivation operations and medical marijuana infused product manufacturing. The ordinance does not affect patients or state-approved caregivers.Since Colorado voters approved an amendment permitting the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, dispensaries have opened in nearly every Colorado community. Medical marijuana can be prescribed as a treatment for chronic pain, to control nausea during chemotherapy, or as a treatment for glaucoma, among other ailments.Medical marijuana shop owners and their clientele are subject to strict regulations and licensing. Customers — patients — must apply for a registry card which includes at a cost of $90 per applicant. The application process requires certification from a licensed physician—the equivalent of a prescription—authorizing the patient’s need for medical marijuana. Dispensaries must meet multiple requirements for operation.State codes provide municipalities the option to prohibit such establishments. In 2009, Meeker’s board approved a temporary moratorium to consider the issue. “There’s a broad range of municipal authority that allows the board to take action on this issue,” said town attorney Jerry Viscardi. According to state law, local governments have the right to determine land use based on the health, safety and welfare of the community.“Since this issue came to the forefront two years ago, we have not had any inquiries. No one has shown any interest or desire to want to get licensed, any zoning issues or anything of this type,” Viscardi added.Trustee Regas Halandras questioned the wisdom of enacting a permanent moratorium. “I think that there’s a way to have them. I don’t see one in Meeker, but there are card holders in Meeker who go out-of-town,” he said. “I’m not in favor of an all-out ban. That’s kind of turning our nose up at business. I don’t think it interferes with stuff anymore than liquor stores do.” Town administrator Sharon Day disagreed. “At CML (Colorado Municipal League) last year, we had a long discussion about medical marijuana. There are a lot of things that do pop up around the places of business. More crime, more fires. The stores get broken into a lot, and in the strip malls there are problems with odors permeating the area and businesses losing customers.”Trustee Andy Thomson agreed with Day, stating, “For me it feels like this is one of the most over-abused loopholes in the legal system. I think there are people who do need it, but I see the abuse potential being a problem. That’s what my gut tells me.” No members of the public were present for the hearing, and the board passed the ordinance 5-1.