Before recreational marijuana delivery can take place in towns and counties in Colorado, local governments must opt into the state law allowing it. Aurora City Council has been discussing marijuana delivery since 2019, and nearly introduced a bill regarding delivery during an August 17 study session, but the ordinance was shelved when councilmembers requested more feedback from marijuana industry and law enforcement representatives, as well as discussion of social-equity licensing language.
Councilmembers' concerns ranged from barriers to entry for new business owners to security. Instead of moving the local delivery proposal forward for a vote at a future council meeting, Councilwoman Nicole Johnston suggested holding off, and her colleagues agreed.
"I don't want to rush the delivery system. There are some security issues that should at least be discussed and addressed," Johnston said. "I'm concerned about going too fast with this delivery implementation without having more discussion and stakeholder involvement."
The state marijuana delivery law requires the delivery car to be equipped with a security camera, and for the driver to check the customer's ID at the point of delivery. However, Johnston and Councilwoman Françoise Bergan wanted to flesh out the security process more with the Aurora Police Department.
"I have a lot of concerns, just from a safety [perspective]," Bergan told the council, adding that she didn't want marijuana delivered to households with residents under 21, and would like to see a cutoff time for deliveries well before midnight.
Councilmembers Johnston, Alison Coombs and Juan Marcano also said they wanted to explore paths toward more socially equitable marijuana business licensing, a topic lightly broached at the state level and currently under consideration by the City of Denver. Marcano questioned language in the ordinance requiring proof of $400,000 in financial backing and two years of experience in the marijuana industry in order to qualify for a recreational delivery license, and said he wondered if that would be a barrier to entry.
"I kind of feel like that's creating a very select group of people in what is already an expensive market to get into," Marcano said. The requirements, written for dispensary applicants over six years ago, were intended to ensure that marijuana stores could survive in a highly regulated industry, according to Councilwoman Marsha Berzins, a councilmember at the time.
Coombs wants to cut those qualifications, as well as create a social equity licensing program for those affected by the War on Drugs. She suggested that the city look at a social equity program implemented in Massachusetts as an example, as well as the Denver Marijuana Licensing Work Group, which is expected to provide recommendations on potential marijuana delivery, hospitality and licensing programs to Denver City Council after a final meeting in late September.
"It's been shown that simply removing the barriers is not sufficient to have the impact on social equity, in other places," Coombs explained.
If eventually approved, the ordinance would not allow dispensaries located outside of Aurora to deliver within the city. Since Aurora doesn't allow medical marijuana sales, that means that only recreational pot deliveries would be available. The council is still considering whether to allow Aurora dispensaries to deliver in other towns that have approved delivery.
The Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Division will proceed with gathering public and stakeholder feedback, according to Mayor Mike Coffman, who said the ordinance "will be delayed until further information."