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Marijuana: Suburban dispensary finally approved after four-year legal battle

Four years and multiple court battles later, the medical marijuana dispensary known as Cannamart has finally won approval to do business in Littleton.

The shop still has more hoops ahead of it, including the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division licensing process.

But Cannamart attorney Bob Hoban is optimistic that things are finally, finally, finally on the right track, after setbacks that started back in 2009.

According to Hoban, Cannamart opened on November 12, 2009, at 72 East Arapahoe Road, but it wasn't left alone to do business for long. In mid-December, he goes on, Littleton passed legislation to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in town to four.

Cannamart's East Arapahoe Road location.
Cannamart's East Arapahoe Road location.

At first, this didn't seem like an issue. In early February 2010, the Littleton city clerk sent a letter announcing that Cannamart had been okayed as one of the four centers allowed to operate in the community; it's on view below. However, that approval was later revoked without process or explanation, Hoban maintains.

Bob Hoban.
Bob Hoban.

In response, Hoban filed a lawsuit on Cannamart's behalf calling for damages based on the revocation, which he characterizes as a taking of sorts. After the complaint was rejected at the trial court level, the parties took the matter to the state Court of Appeals and asked for a stay so the dispensary could remain open through the process -- and the request was granted.

This positive development was followed by a negative one: The Court of Appeals ultimately rejected Cannamart's complaint, too. That triggered another appeal, this time to the Colorado Supreme Court. Hoban identifies the key question asked by the case like so: Can the government pass legislation to arbitrarily shut down a canna-business without compensation?

That answer has not yet been answered. The arguments were made this past December, but a decision is still pending.

In the meantime, however, the fourth slot for a Littleton dispensary opened up, and rather than waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, Cannamart's owners, following Hoban's advice, decided to apply for it as an alternative strategy.

Continue for more about Cannamart's four-year legal battle, including an original document.

Inside Cannamart's current location.
Inside Cannamart's current location.

Now, Cannamart has won local approval and plans to relocate to 1080 West Littleton Boulevard, a structure formally occupied by a salon.

There still needs to be substantial build-out in the space, not to mention the blessing of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. But even if the Supreme Court ultimately follows the lead of Cannamart's previous two judgments and dismisses the complaint, the dispensary should be able to do business anyhow.

Hoban's take?

"Cannamart is proud to be a member of the Littleton community," he writes via e-mail. But while there's been "a great result for the client in this instance, there are many other fires burning that require attention and experienced attention.

"We trust and hope that Colorado's appellate courts will treat these matters with the appropriate level of scrutiny moving forward, despite their novel and often-times controversial issues," he goes on, adding, "This is an exciting time to be at the forefront of the nation's marijuana legal practice."

Here's the 2010 letter from the Littleton City Clerk to Cannamart:

2010 Littleton City Clerk Cannamart Letter

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana activist thinks state should consider a glass of wine proof of alcoholism? Sort of."