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Hours After Announcing He'd Close Dispensaries, Hancock Backs Off

The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24.EXPAND
The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24.
Thomas Mitchell

The people spoke — and lined up by the masses — and Mayor Michael Hancock listened.

Just hours after issuing a citywide order for Denver residents to stay at home, which included a temporary shutdown of liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries to limit the spread of coronavirus, Hancock reversed the decision, at least regarding rec cannabis and liquor stores.

Originally slated to close at 5 p.m. March 24 along with dozens of other retail operations deemed non-essential by the city, which are ordered to stay shuttered until April 10, recreational dispensaries and liquor stores in Denver may now remain open "with extreme physical distancing in place," according to an update from the city.

However, because Governor Jared Polis had already issued an executive order that all recreational dispensaries in the state must stop in-person sales from March 24 through April 10, and instead go to curbside pick-up and delivery, Denver's recreational pot shop sales must all be through online pre-orders or orders made outside the store.

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Medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to remain open for in-store shopping under both Polis's order and Hancock's original and revised order.

By ordering a shutdown of dispensaries with little notice, Hancock caused exactly what he was trying to avoid: gatherings of large crowds of people. And with dispensaries already implementing social-distancing practices and curbside delivery over the weekend, they were largely ill-suited for a large influx of customers. Now, pot shops are trying to get the word out to customers that tomorrow won't be the last day for nearly three weeks when they can buy commercial weed in Denver.

"We thank the mayor for clarifying his order. Without the clarification, the assumption was marijuana was forced to close in Denver. This caused hysteria and panic, thereby negating the progress we made around social distancing," reads a statement from Terrapin Care Station, a Colorado dispensary chain with a store in Denver. "We’re glad the mayor clarified. We will work to get word out so that people stop flocking to stores given the initial hysteria. We were very concerned for our employees and customers.

"Hopefully, panic will subside by tomorrow morning and we can get back to our mission — social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19."

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